Fossil Hunting Fun: Share Your Stories and Photos!

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In summary, I collected a few ammonites from the Staithes area in North Yorkshire with my university friend. My favorite place to find fossils is at Bryce Canyon in Utah.
  • #1
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Are there any other geology/palaentology enthusiasts that like to do a spot of fossil collecting when they get a chance? Or maybe you don't like geology, but just think ammonites are cool?

What were your best finds? Where are your favorite fossil hunting spots?
Photos would be nice.

I took a trip with university up to Staithes, North Yorkshire on Sunday (Lower Jurassic sandstone, shale and ironstone sea cliffs) and managed to retrive a few good ammonites. I saw a few good pieces of wood and jet, lots of belemnites, coporolites (fish/dinosaur poo full of broken shells) and bivalves (including something similar to a Pecten almost as big as my hand) but didn't have time to stop and spend half an hour trying to chisel them out. My friend found a good piece of well preserved fern, which I'm quite jealous of. Plesiosaurs have been discovered in the area, but unfortunately we didn't find any trace of one.
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  • #2
My favorite place is Bryce Canyon Utah. I have found a lot of really cool stuff there, bones,shells, corporolite, fish/leaf/ferns. Great chunks of selenite rose clusters up top. Rutilated Quartz mid-ground. I found several tektite's on the beaches of the Great Salt Lake.

I also like to hunt for stuff along the Ohio river, I've come up with lots of Native American tools/points ect. And its a great source for multi-color Fluorite.


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  • #3
The only place I've been fossil hunting is at Caesar Creek, Ohio (just a little ways from the Ohio River). Found nothing there other than the usual bryozoans, mollusks and wotnots. Was fun, nevertheless.
  • #4
Thats a nice area, I've been camping there, but because I was on state land, I was only able to nudge the surface..good shale and limestone. I would suspect there is more...well hidden.
  • #5
matthyaouw said:
I took a trip with university up to Staithes, North Yorkshire on Sunday

I'm really pleased I came across this topic as I've recently become quite interested in rocks and fossil hunting, although I've not had the opportunity to actually try it yet!

I live in Cheshire and was unsure of where to go searching. Is Staithes a good place to go for my first trip? It's a 3 hour drive for me.

Any tips for a beginner would be greatly received.
  • #6
My favorite hunting place is the North Sea where we find an abundance of Pleistocene Steppe fauna with a remarkable high occurrence of the woolly rhino (Coelodonta antiquitatis).

Here is of our loot lately. I'm on the right behind a big chunk of a mammoth skull.
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  • #7
Staithes is deffinately a good place to start i think. Be sure to time your visit with the tide, as you need a low tide to access most of the area around there, and there is a chance of getting cut off if you are careless. I worked the area between Staithes and Port Mulgrave, which is a short distance south (and at Port Mulgrave, there is an alternative exit route, just in case the tide happens to get the better of you.) I wish i had my field notes to point you towards some of the better spots, but they have been taken in for marking and I'm not likely to see them for some time. In my experience the best fossils for colllecting seem to be pebbles on the beach, rather than ones sticking out of the cliff, as they are often near impossible to retrive without breaking (Plus, undermining an unstable cliff is not the smartest move in the world). The best things to look out for are fairly circular grey rocks with the edges of ammonites sticking out of them. It you tap the join between the fossil and the rock softly and repetadly with the sharp end of a geological hammer, many of them will cleave quite easily and leave you with a good fossil. I'd reccomend that you take some goggles if you plan to use a hammer. Fine shards are a bit of a problem with the kind of shale you'll find there, and really really hurt, trust me :wink: Another place you might want to consider is Whitby, which is quite nearby. I'm not sure whether Staithes or Whitby is better for fossils, but there is more to do in Whitby if you get bored, or decide you fancy some fish and chips.

I'll put up a couple of photos for you when i get chance.
  • #8
Andre said:
My favorite hunting place is the North Sea where we find an abundance of Pleistocene Steppe fauna with a remarkable high occurrence of the woolly rhino (Coelodonta antiquitatis).

Here is of our loot lately. I'm on the right behind a big chunk of a mammoth skull.

I'm impressed. How long did it take you to accumulate that lot? I think it beats my handfull of ammonites.
Do you know of anywhere on land that has similar fossils?
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  • #9
Thanks for the info, matthyaouw. I'm going to do some research on the net and buy myself a geological hammer.

If anyone can recommend a good book on fossil hunting, detailing all the fossil types that can be found and best ways to go about it, I'd be very grateful.

Looking forward to a trip up to North Yorkshire!
  • #10
matthyaouw said:
How long did it take you to accumulate that lot?

Would you believe a single day? Monday, 25 April.

But then again we cheated. I guess. We used that beam trawler on the background of the picture to scoop into the sea floor. The North Sea used to be a steppe somewhere between 40,000 and 28,000 Carbon years BP. It was also land during the Younger Dryas. After about 6000 BP it got permanently inundated and the big rivers carried a lot of sand over the Pleistocene strata. Too much for the big ships to reach the harbours so particular lanes are dredged deeper like the know all those tricks.

Do you know of anywhere on land that has similar fossils?

The North Sea is currently the richest source of Pleistocene fauna. Second is the Taimyr Peninsula in the highest arctic north of Siberia with an almost identical community in the same time, which makes you think that the North Sea at 52 degrees North lattitude and Taimyr at 75 degrees North lattitute once had identical climate and habitat. That's when you know that Earth and climate is a lot more complicated than global warming.

In the US we have Mammoth Hot Springs in Dakota where woolly mammoths and mastodons have been found.
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  • #11
If you'd like to know more about the fossile treasures of the North Sea I recommend .
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  • #12
Andre, I am sooooo jealous! It looks like you had a great time.
  • #13
Can someone advise which type of hammer is best for me to go fossil hunting? There is a hammer section and a rock pick section on this site -
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  • #14
I use a 16 ounce wood{hickory} handle, Its served me well for over 20 years.
  • #15
matthyaouw, Doc Brown. If you're up in North Yorkshire, have a look at a place called Bogglehole. It's about a mile south of Robin Hood's Bay (roughly halfway between Scarborough and Whitby). I'm no fossil enthusiast, but I can tell you there's an absolute shedload of them there! I found some really nice, quite large ammonites with very little searching. There's quite a lot of jet around there too, if that's your thing and you can be bothered looking.
  • #16
My dad's a geologist, and when I was little I was obsessed with dinosaurs, so naturally my dad used to take me fossil hunting. We just went near Rochester where I lived. Most of what we found was just crinoids, imprints of shells, and a few trilobites. I haven't been fossil hunting for years but I have good memories from then.
  • #17
I rememer going to bogglehole once as a kid... I don't think I found much other than a crinoid stem, but I wasn't really looking at the time. I'll have to take another look at some point.

I'll deffinately be adding mammoth fishing onto my list of thing to do at least once in my lifetime.
  • #18
Excellent. And to be sure to keep that desire I'll show some more pictures: when how it appeared first after emptying the net in that box. reassembled for the occasion by Prof Jelle Reumer and Dick Mol. , which was already very impressive. The back - left box is totally filled with more fragments of that mammoth skull front right. It is believed that the skull was reasonably intact before it was shattered by the chains of the net that scoop the sea floor. But the reconstruction will be done in the Natuur Museum of Rotterdam.
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  • #19
Now, unfortunately it's in Dutch but there are some nice pictures with the report of that particular trip:

The site does not allow sub page-linking. So hit "nieuws" at the left hand side and then hit the bullet: "Verslag van de Paleontologische expeditie naar de Eurogeul op maandag 25 april 2005, door André Bijkerk"

Also note that the scroll bar is at the right hand side of the yellow area, barely visible.
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  • #20
ok, ok, I know, here is a rough translation of that Dutch:

Report of the Paleonthologic fishing expedition in the Eurogeul with the GO-33 on Monday 25 Aril 2005

The North sea is renowned for its wealth of paleontological treasures of the middle to late Pleistocene, especially the Eurogeul due to dredging activities, deepening the navigation channel As winter has passed again, the Eurogeul may have been dredged again and besides water currents may have exposed more fossils, so it’s time to check that out. This time the expedition is on initiative of the German paper “ Zeit wissen” (Time knowing) as the Yukagir mammoth in the Expo in japan has drawn some attention world wide. The initial plan was a visit to the CERPOLEX treasures in Khatanga, Taymir peninsula but the red tape things were Together with Klaas Post (Urk) and organized by Dick Mol, a Eurogeul expedition was quickly set up as a reasonable alternative. With a small beam- trawler that is usually fishing for flatfish like sole and place a lot of other objects are collected, even fossils sometimes.

A good fortune was that I also got an invitation to join as Dick knows that I’m very interested in hands on examination of the Pleistocene remains. Especially the North Sea was intriguing, especially after reading “Submarine Prehistoric Archeology of the North Sea” that Dick advised about on the WPZ website.

Anyway, on the big day we meet at 4.30 somewhere on a exit of a highway to be well in time for the big event in Stellendam. In the Harbor we meet the order members. The weather is beautiful and soon we are on open sea with a speed of about 11 knots heading for a new area that was never tried before. However later it was decided to go for more certainty so we continued for the Eurogeul after all.

Transiting to the area takes two hours with lots of coffee and mammoth talk. The experts Jelle Reumer and John de Vos ponder about possible spectacular discoveries. More mammoths would be nice but those are common. A second scimitar cat, especially a skull would be the most spectacular. Personally I would also add a mid Pleistocene homo sapiens to that. Anyway then the nets are finally released for the first time to start drawing on the sea bottom. The heavy chains at the front of the nets plow though the sediments, arousing the bottom so most of the objects are stirred up and get into the net. This takes a lot of power and the speed of the ship reduces to only 3-4 knots. Then after some half an hour the nets are pulled in again and the contents are released in some big boxes. The catch is reasonable for the fisherman although the asmount of sole and place is not big also many young “pietermannen” and “poons” are also in and a lot more undefined creatures. The first element of the loot is quickly spotted, an dark peculiar shaped bone. Dick observes it very carefully for at least two milliseconds and decides after ample consideration of another millisecond that it’s a "spine of an Irish elk". For the lawmen, this translates to a vertebra of a Megaloceros giganteus . Also some bison and mammoth bones are in. An akward stone, a flint looks like an ancient archeological tool for scraping hides. A promising start. However, the next couple of pulls are disappointing. Not many bones, not many fish. An interesting little hoof of a Pleistocene horse but no real exiting game. Then another very long pull provokes excitement. A large hump is quickly identified of a part of a mammoth skull, a large old bull. The net produces an abundance of skull fragments as the open structure of a mammoth skull resembles a sort of honeycumb structure. Apparantly the skull has partly disintegrated in the net. Too bad but the Nature museum of Rotterdam will reassemble the skull again. The same pull also brings a couple excellent skull parts of a bison with horns still in it’s place. Finally we are getting somewhere. The large amount of wood intrigues me, old tree stumps and branches. A large trunk is set aside. Dick will have it carbon dated. I ponder that it’s probably early Holocene >10,000 years, after all I have read that book but some think that it may be older. Further pulls brings more fossils, to me hardly distinguishable from stones but the experts explain what parts of animals we see like kneecaps and foot bones. There is also a fragment of a very large tusk with a diameter that exceeds both the Jarkov and the Yukagir tusks.

When we return to Stellendam there is lots of time to discuss the merits of fishing and the problems, the surprising modern electronics that help schipper Maarten to know exactly what he is doing. The Journalist Florian wants to know everything about mammoths and their particulars and the experts are happy to tell him all about it. The climate and invironment of the Pleistocene steppe remains as always a point for dispute. We ponder about the typical dating of the Eurogeul bones, either older than 28,000 years or younger than 10,000 years? Why nothing in between? I propose that the area may have been inundated in that time frame apart from the passing of the late Devensian – Weichselian ice sheet in that period that makes the climate of the area a lot less attractive. However I’m getting a new idea, the Heinrich events may have to do with that. Time for a new hypothesis.

We arrive back in the harbor at 1800, exactly as planned and we look back on a splendid experience thanks to the support of the “zeit wissen” and Klaas Post and Schipper Maarten de Waal and his crew for a very successful event.
  • #21
I really do find this fascinating, thanks for the information
  • #22
I worked many years on a water dept survey crew
we watched many many miles of pipe trench being dug
mostly in so called coral rock
and never found anything better then a fossil clam and other shells
not even a sharks tooth

but trucked in fill has yielded crystial inbeded coral and other crystialiest forms
that came from deep rock pits

but my kid went to a supervised dig and found bear bones and teeth
that was at a local tourest trap call the monkey jungle
  • #23
Something cool about fossil hunting and discovery is that it can boost the economic prospects of the town or community near-by the find.

There's a town called Tumbler Ridge in BC, Canada, that was one of those facsimile towns built for miners and big trucks. Just as everyone was about to leave because of the mine closing some kids found footprints of hadrosaurids and other dinos all along a river there. Pretty soon there were scads of people coming into town to have a look and stay the night. The place is still booming thanks to the lives of the "terrible lizards" from over 65 million years ago.

There's a shale deposit I've visited in the Rockies with trilobites and all sorts of fern and other plant fossils in it. The rangers will frisk you on the way out so I don't even think about snagging a sample.

Drumheller Alberta Ca. is a hot bed of fossil activity. Mostly from the Triassic and Jurassic periods. There are specimens of the Albertosaurus (smaller cousin to the Tyranids) and many Hadrosaur, Ankleosaurids and Stegosaurids through out the valley. Its an unusual dry belt of badlands that runs through the prarie up there. At some point it hooks up with Milk River in Montana where the Black Beauty of Tyranids was found on a farm some 20 years ago. There is also a specimen of a Mososaurus that was found around the area. Its just the head and its rows of teeth are righteous!

Studying fossils is a form of time travel that has little or no effect on the existing time continuum. As far as I know!

1. What is fossil hunting?

Fossil hunting is the process of searching for and collecting fossils, which are the preserved remains or traces of ancient organisms. Fossils can include bones, teeth, shells, imprints, and other evidence of past life.

2. Where can I go fossil hunting?

Fossil hunting can be done in a variety of locations, including beaches, quarries, riverbeds, and even your own backyard. It's important to research the geology and laws of the area before fossil hunting to ensure it is legal and safe.

3. What tools do I need for fossil hunting?

Some essential tools for fossil hunting include a rock hammer, chisel, safety goggles, and a field notebook. Optional tools may include a magnifying glass, camera, and GPS device. It's also important to bring proper clothing and footwear for the specific location and weather.

4. What should I do if I find a fossil?

If you find a fossil, it's important to treat it with care and respect. Take photos and notes about its location and appearance, but do not remove it from the site. It's best to leave fossils in their natural habitat for others to discover and for scientific research.

5. Can anyone go fossil hunting?

Yes, anyone can go fossil hunting! It's an enjoyable activity for all ages and can be done individually or with a group. However, it's important to follow proper safety precautions and respect the laws and regulations of the area to ensure a safe and responsible experience.