LAGUNA BEACH — Mark Garcia and his girlfriend, Yvonne Bellgardt, were looking for sea glass in the rocks near the tide pools north of Main Beach when they came across a more ancient find.

“I looked over and saw these clams,” said Garcia, of Mission Viejo. “Then I realized they were sitting inside rocks in the tide pools. The rocks were filled with lava flows. I figured they have to be pretty old.”

Garcia, 50, a retired police officer and Bellgardt, a photographer, spend most weekends at the beaches in Laguna but that day in November was a first.

Garcia began comparing photos of the fossils to images he found on the internet. His research stirred his curiosity even more, so he contacted several geology professors at Cal State Fullerton.

John Foster, a geological engineering professor, analyzed the photos and told him the fossils appeared to be Miocene-age clams and likely 17 million years old.

“When he told me that, I couldn’t believe it,” Bellgardt said. “It was just amazing.”

On Monday, Jan. 22, Garcia was excited to get actual confirmation about his discovery.

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Source:: East Bay – Science

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