Tips for Fossil Hunting

Fossil hunting can be so exciting. To find the remains of a creature that lived thousands, if not millions, of years ago is absolutely thrilling. Actually, a fossil is not only about the remains of a dead animal or plant, it can also be the imprint that the creature/plant has made in the rock. This can be the marks of the teeth, hair, spine or shell- anything that was part of the animal or plant. But a fossil can also be a foot-print or the remains of excrement. Sometimes the imprint has been filled with minerals, like a mold. In other words, there are many varieties of fossils to look for!

To know where to look for fossils it could be good to invest in a rock-hounding book, one that has been written for the area you wish to visit. The authors of rock-hounding books let you in on lots of tips for success. They also let you know where you can hunt, how to ask permission of landowners and places to avoid. While fossils are often found near old riverbeds, by the beach or in quarries, they could basically be found anywhere!

If you go to a beach, start by looking at the foreshore. As the waters recede, the fossils are easily found. This is a great place to go fossil hunting with children, as it is easily available. Look among the shingles, lift the stones and look under them. By checking around and under the bigger stones, you might find some fossils that could otherwise be overlooked. This is especially so in areas where many people are searching for fossils. The tide-line is also a great place for looking, sometimes fossils in amber get caught among the seaweeds. Do not hesitate to get your hands dirty- lift and shake those weeds!

Farms often are a good place to search for fossils, years of ploughing lifts fossils to the surface, this is particularly true for those areas were chalk is close to the surface. Get the permission of the owner and go looking. In some parts, there are public walking paths through farmlands. Walk slowly and look carefully. You might be lucky!

An old quarry is a good place to search for fossils. Sometimes you need to dig a little bit to find something, but often there are remains on the surface. Also look by the cliff face or the scree slopes. Be very careful when looking around old quarries, the sides might not be stable or there might be water in the bottom, take precautions not to get injured.

Fossil hunting is not always easy. To reach the areas where fossils might be found can involve walking and climbing through forests and on rocks. There can be days when you do not find anything. But, when you do find a fossil, especially one that has been well preserved- you feel that it was all worth the effort!