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Best Fossil Hunting 

Shell Ridge Open Space

Twelve million years ago, the San Francisco Bay was a highland. The hilly regions of Contra Costa County were an ocean. And we've got millions of fossilized clam, oyster, mussel, and scallop shells embedded in sandstone to prove it. Trounce through any creek in Lamorinda and you'll stumble across some; for a mother lode of fossils, lying among sea-smoothed pebbles as if they'd just washed up in the surf, head to Shell Ridge Open Space and hike Fossil Ridge, Fossil Hill, or the Fossil Trail. The region's saber-toothed tigers, mastodons, and camel fossils have already been excavated, so you'll have to take your late-Cenozoic blast from the past in mollusk form. But still, if you want to see your world from a different perspective, looking at proof positive that the foothills of the East Bay's tallest peak used to be a seashore, even if your proof is just a clam, can do the trick.

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