● By Style
Photos by Dante Fontana, © Style Media Group.
For Meadow Vista resident Richard Hilton, paleontology is all about the thrill of the hunt.
As a young boy, Hilton’s parents would take him to the countryside to look for fossils and arrowheads, an experience that gave him a true appreciation for natural history. Now chairman of the Sierra College Natural History Museum and professor of Earth Sciences at Sierra College, Hilton continues to lead expeditions all around the world. On one trip to Red Bluff, he came across the partial remains of a small dinosaur, one of the oldest ever excavated in California. The discovery laid the groundwork for his book, Dinosaurs and Other Mesozoic Reptiles of California.
Yet for Hilton, there is more joy in finding Earth’s treasures than keeping them. “If you came to my house, you probably wouldn’t know I’m a geologist or paleontologist,” he says with a laugh, explaining that most of his discoveries are on display at the Sierra College Natural History Museum. These days, he is working hard to expand the museum’s offerings, and he is also an emeritus board member for the Gateway Science Museum at CSU Chico. His motivation is simple: he knows first-hand the positive impact natural history can make on a young person’s life. “They come out of [the museum] with different eyes, with a more educated mind,” Hilton says. “They get inspired.”
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