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Aug 2 / Dave Schumaker

Capitola, California – Fossil Collecting

SF Gate photo - Fossils at Capitola BeachThis is interesting since I was just here last week collecting and examining fossils from the Purisima formation as a part of the SF-ROCKS outreach program. A few days later, the San Francisco Chronicle printed an article on the front page of the local section about Capitola, with a picture of an amazing fossil that we found on the beach when our own group was at Capitola a few days earlier. The article says it’s a whale bone, but a friend of the SF-ROCKS director says that it is most likely a sea lion or dolphin.

At Capitola, the hunt for these antiques is easy, although the results aren’t as dramatic as, say, the mammoth discovered recently in the bed of the Guadalupe River in San Jose. Fossilized mollusk shells stick out of many of the rocks and form layers at the base of the cliffs. Boessenecker pointed out exposed sections of whale ribs. Beside one boulder was a line of vertebrae.

EDIT [08/10/2005]: Bobby Boessenecker, who is interviewed in the article, actually emailed and clarified the confusion over that fossil. Evidentially, it *is* a whale bone! Read the comments for more details. Thanks Bobby!

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