Buena Vista Museum of Natural History lets customers dig for history

Museum brings diggers to site near Sharktooth Hill

BAKERSFIELD - "I like looking for stuff. So I found a few teeth and I've just been hooked ever since," Chuck Christman of Santa Barbara said. "You never know what you are going to find in here."

The Thrill of  the search - that brings Christman, with his tripod and shovel to Sharktooth Hill.

"I found a dolphin ear bone and a whale ear bone too, Christman said. "There is nothing quite like when a big shark tooth pops up in the screen that has been laying there for millions of years. It's incredible."

Christman was under the sun with other diggers for a paleo dig this weekend through the Buena Vista Museum of Natural history. 

"Being able to bring people out here to a site close to Bakersfield, to a world class location for fossils and having people see things for the first time, seeing them unearth a fossil, that is an excitement portion of it," Tim Elam said.

Elam volunteers with the museum and is also a geologist.

For first time diggers this weekend, searching for bones and teeth was time well spent. 

"I don't want to miss anything," Tina Nichols, a rookie digger, said.

"It's a lot more fun than I thought it would be," she said. "It is really interesting. It is like a history lesson and geology lesson."

The location, northeast of Bakersfield, is a premium site for digging. Once covered by the Pacific Ocean millions of years ago, those lessons in history and geology now sit just a few feet below the ground.

"It happens to be exposed here, Chuck Mast, a volunteer with the museum, said. "In town it is like 3,500 feet deep but it is still there. Everybody seems to have a good time. Not everybody finds a lot of teeth, but everybody enjoys getting out. Like going fishing, it is always fun to fish."

But, also like fishing, there is usually a few people that come away with the big catches.

"There is probably 50 or 60 teeth in there right now," Christman said - while holding up his bag of teeth that he found while digging. 

It is the rush of finding what lies beneath the surface that keeps the diggers going. Some of the finds can be as old as 14 to 15 million-years-old the museum said.

Buena Vista has more digs scheduled for April 12-14 and May 17-19. For more information on the paleo digs or other events through the museum, or to register for a one, two or three day dig pass, you can call the museum at 661-324-6350 or visit www.sharktoothhill.org


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