December 18, 2014  
Fossil Hunting

Fossil Forum

Fossil Chat

Videos

Fossil Articles

Paleo Cartoons

Contact Us

Fossil Hunting Excursions

Image Galleries

Fossil Links

FAQ
Trip Reports
  

  You are here:  View      
 

Shark Tooth Hill Fossil Collecting Ernst Quarries near Bakersfield, CA

Once in a while I need a change of scenery. Not that my current fossil hunting digs aren’t excellent, it’s more that my inner explorer craves the adventure of a new site. The past two years, we went to Venice, and before that Aurora.. This year we decided to try out Shark Tooth Hill – long celebrated for its bounty of fossils just 20 minutes north east of Bakersfield, California.

Da fossz, Scubapaul, the phat boys, DG, and I made the cross-country trek. It was DF & my first time out, but everyone else had been there before. I’m ok with being a newbie. I welcome the challenge keep up as long as acceptable Southwest / Mexican grub is close enough to re-charge my digging power cells. So before we even hunted, we sampled a nearby burrito joint called Jakes with Rob Ernst, operator of the ultimate Shark Tooth Hill hunting experience Ernst Quarries where you can dig to your hearts’ content and come away with a sweet haul. The burrito was pretty good, but I was ready to get hunting.

Day 1 we were taken to a rarely hunted area on the West Quarry. Hunting teeth is a pretty simple concept, if not always in execution. Shark Tooth Hill is in a desert, so on the rare occasion that there has been recent rain you can walk around on other people’s abandoned dig holes and find teeth exposed. That’s a good break, but by no means was it the main attraction which involved digging a hole. But the formation can be pretty hard, so sledge hammer and chisel were the tools of choice on the first day. The first thing I noticed was how brittle everything was. It was really easy to break the roots right off the teeth just by removing the formation left on the tooth immediately after extraction. I quickly learned to leave the teeth in a clump and as soon as I started doing that, I stopped breaking stuff. I don’t know how many times I swung the sledge hammer that day or how much desert death dust I inhaled (apparently there is a spore in the air out there that in rare cases can kill you!), but I know I found enough teeth to easily consider the whole day worthwhile.

Day 2 we thought we were going back to the same spot as day 1, but a border dispute with bordering pasturelands caused us to pick a side of the West Quarry. We all headed down the road and found a place on the wall to start digging. Oh my gosh, the digging was BRUTAL! Thankfully Rob showed up with some mattocks and railroad spikes. Even with the increased power of the new tools, it took forever to dig off the overburden to get down to the good stuff. I know I beat on that wall for over 2 hours before I thought to myself there had to be another way. Back from the wall, it was easy to see where hunters before us had looked. The whole place was cratered with dig holes so we decided to move away from the wall and dig in the flats. Strong call. It didn’t take long to find an area that had not been dug before. I poked around and found a few teeth, but wanting better returns for my effort, I kept exploring and digging test holes until I hit the jackpot. It was a small area where the teeth were literally piled together. At one point I was pulling out 3 teeth a minute. Phat Marco remarked something along the lines of, “That’s what its supposed to be like.” So I kept digging – for most of the rest of the day! The problem was lack of proper equipment, mainly shovels, but we made do. Just near the end, as my pockets sagged with paleo bounty, I went looking for everyone else on the other side of the hill. Rather than just sit there until they finished, I decided to dig a little and I found a hole where the makos where stacked on top of each other again. But we were all getting pretty tired and hungry so we decided to call it a day and find a Mexican joint to sate us. We decided to try someplace different and I’m so glad we did. We found this place called Agave that had a grande burrito, rolled with two giant shells and stuffed with anything you want. It was so good I wish I was eating it right now. Afterwards, we hit Home Depot and I picked up my shovel of preference, because after a half day of digging old school, I had a technique to produce.

Day 3 we went back to the West Quarry and were joined by members of the Buena Vista Museum. I got right back in the hole with all the big makos, this time armed with the proper equipment. I continued to find perfect teeth, while similar test holes around my honey-hole produced nothing. I’m not sure why the concentrations are like that, teeth in one spot but not another right next to it. My best explanation is that the bottom is not perfectly flat. Just like the ocean bottom today, there are dips and elevated areas. The ocean makes sure everything settles at the lowest point, so spots loaded with teeth could have just been lower when the non fossilized teeth touched down from their last feeding frenzies. Whatever the cause, I found a place where the teeth were popping out of the formation left and right. But soon, the finds dried up and so I went back to the hole I stopped working the day before on the other side of the quarry where I continued to make finds through the end of the day, surprisingly enough. Dinner afterwards was a Longhorn Steakhouse where I had the single worst hamburger I have ever eaten. I seriously worried inwardly about the status of my fossiling karma until Phat Marco pulled me out of my daze when dared me to curb the onslaught of auditory sludge. Rather than allow my next day of hunting to be fruitless, I accepted the dare and unplugged the restaurant jukebox to to voice my discontent at the filth that had been set before me. I ate it, but I was thinking about the burrito. Is that wrong? Still the facts before me, by breaking the chain of southwest and Mexican cuisine, I was rolling the dice and leaving my next day’s finds to an unknown fate.

Day 4 was windy, rainy, and cold. Normal desert weather. The roads in the quarry were slick and access to the West Quarry was unavailable. No vehicle, even one on tracks, could navigate those steep clay roads when they were wet. But we planned for the day and saved our hunt at the Slow Curve quarry for the rain since it was near the entrance to the quarry. The good thing about this site is the color of the teeth, all marbled red and orange. The bad thing about this site is the poor preservation of the teeth. It is so easy to stick a shovel into the ground and instead of feeling it and backing off on the downward pressure, the shovel continued through the fossils and bones as if they were just dirt. We dug for about an hour, but after destroying several nice teeth we decided that it wasn’t worth the effort to dig if we broke everything. So we decided to hike over to the West Quarry and dig more over there. That was a grueling hike if ever I had seen one. Up and down the hills, in the rain, each step made a little tougher by the additional mud that our shoes collected. All in all, the mile hike took us about 30 minutes, but I swear there is no more intense workout anywhere. And that’s before the digging began in full!

After the hike, I quickly located the hole where I had so much success on the third day and I picked up where I left off. Eventually, the hole stopped producing and I was forced to go scouting yet again with the last hour of the day. One test hole was worthless. So was another. Then I moved into a spot with a lot of bone thrown over top of it. After I moved all the fossil bone, I found the formation underneath loaded with bone, looking really positive. I kept digging and started flopping out teeth again. I found another honey hole, but I didn’t have a change to finish it so I marked it and called it a day. The hike back was worse than the hike in, but with our last reserves of energy we finally made it back to Slow Curve. Everybody was already gone except for DG who said that had we been with him, we would have had to leave 2 hours prior because the road conditions had been getting worse through the all day desert deluge. With everybody and all our gear packed up, da fossz, Scubapaul, and I watched the Phat Boys and DG try and fail to get up a steep hill to exit the quarry. They would make a run for it, then the tires would slip and they would start sliding backwards. They got out and pushed as we snickered across the valley at their misfortune. Finally, they figured out a way to drive on the side of the hill in the grass to get out. Scubapaul gunned it and made it on the first try. But as we navigated the last turn, his rental car slipped and came mere inches from sliding across the barb-wire fencw. Moral of the story – don’t drive around at Shark Tooth Hill during heavy rain. After two hikes and a day of cold wind and rain, I ordered the same burrito as day 2 and I demolished it in record time.

Day 5, our last day hunting shark teeth at Shark Tooth Hill in Bakersfield. The weather was beautiful again but the roads were still too slick to drive so we were again supposed to hunt Slow Curve. And we decided to hike again over to the West Quarry and the hole I marked the day before. I was sure it would be loaded with fossils and I couldn’t wait to find out. We took a more direct route today, down one hill and ravine, horizontally across another ravine, then up one final ravine between two hills and we were at the location. What a good choice it turned out to be! I found more big, complete makos in that hole than any other the whole trip. They were literally piled on top of each other in one small spot. I also managed to pull a stunning Hexanchus out of that hole. I don’t know how I managed to get it out complete because I didn’t even see it until it fell off my shovel at the bottom of the hole. It was the best tooth I didn’t film of the whole trip. The hike back was light and a little sad because we knew it was straight back to the airport from there and then back to our normal lives. But before that, Scubapaul, DF, and I swung past Agave’s one more time so we could enjoy the fine cuisine one last time.

Grande Burrito, I will miss you.

Shark Tooth Hill
Location Sharktooth Hill, Bakersfield, California, USA

ID4116
Memberdw
Date Added4/22/2012

5 days of digging. Well worth it!
Doesn't that look good?
  

Links
Upper Hexanchus from Shark Tooth Hill
Upper Hexanchus from Shark Tooth Hill
Shark Tooth Hill Hexanchus Cow Shark Tooth
Shark Tooth Hill Hexanchus Cow Shark Tooth
Bakersfield Angel Shark Tooth
Bakersfield Angel Shark Tooth
Bakersfield Basking Shark Tooth
Bakersfield Basking Shark Tooth
Dogfish Shark Tooth
Dogfish Shark Tooth
Hooked Mako Shark Tooth from Bakersfield
Hooked Mako Shark Tooth from Bakersfield
Shark Tooth Hill Mako Isurus Hastalis
Shark Tooth Hill Mako Isurus Hastalis
Bakersfield Mako Shark Tooth
Bakersfield Mako Shark Tooth
Sharks Will Have a Week for BRFC this August
Sharks Will Have a Week for BRFC this August
  

Comments
I'm hungry - 4/22/2012
Reviewer : ninjaplease from Connecticut United States
Total Rating : 9.667
It looks really delicious. And the burrito looks good too! Content Quality : 10 of 10

Drool Quotient : 10 of 10

Picture Quality : 9 of 10
VOTE! Agree  Disagree 

Great Finds! - 4/23/2012
Reviewer : FrozenTundra from
Total Rating : 10
Did Homeland Security get the final edit on the video? Is STH2, the sequel in the works? It looked like a great time, a small part of me wishes I had gone. Content Quality : 10 of 10

Drool Quotient : 10 of 10

Picture Quality : 10 of 10
VOTE! Agree  Disagree 

Great post and video...I do declare! - 4/23/2012
Reviewer : da fossz from
Total Rating : 10
What an immense rack...and the burrito pic takes me to a happy place! The head-cam video was neat..like a 3D ride but finding teeth! The cleaning portion was a good addition as well. Fabulous! Content Quality : 10 of 10

Drool Quotient : 10 of 10

Picture Quality : 10 of 10
VOTE! Agree  Disagree 

You had me at burrito... - 4/23/2012
Reviewer : scubapaul from
Total Rating : 10
First let me say I miss that burrito already. And lets not forget the fresh salsa and chips either.... Too bad we have no video of the joke box incident - or the young lady that replaced it ;) Love the videos! Content Quality : 10 of 10

Drool Quotient : 10 of 10

Picture Quality : 10 of 10
VOTE! Agree  Disagree 

- 4/25/2012
Reviewer : wRick from North Carolina United States
Total Rating : 10
Man DW that is a pile of Makos! I was just admiring my steadily growing pile of makos and thinking to myself: "Cool, I'm starting to have a nice mako collection." Now, back to feeling inadequate! Content Quality : 10 of 10

Drool Quotient : 10 of 10

Picture Quality : 10 of 10
VOTE! Agree  Disagree 

Holy Crap! - 5/6/2012
Reviewer : hemipristis from
Total Rating : 10
Treasure trove! Seriously jealous! Content Quality : 10 of 10

Drool Quotient : 10 of 10

Picture Quality : 10 of 10
VOTE! Agree  Disagree  1 of 1 voters agreed.


Formations
  

Fossils
  

Artifacts
  

Facebook
  

Copyright 2011 by www.blackriverfossils.org Terms Of Use Privacy Statement