Examining Ancient Marine Life in Pescadero, California
It takes dedication to get down to Cove Beach at the south end of Año Nuevo State Reserve, but the reward is remarkable. An exposed lens that's part of the Purisima Formation exudes fossils that range in age from one to seven million years. Most are spiraling mollusks and common clams from the late Miocene and Pliocene eras, but some lucky beachcombers find the bones of whales and elephant seals lying on the sand. Winter—when storms batter the cliffs—is the best time of year to look for ancient animal remains and tackle the half-mile long, poison-oak-encrusted trail down to the beach. Bundle up, climb down, and start searching.