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Fossil hunting.

  1. Apr 11, 2005 #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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  3. Apr 15, 2005 #2
    My favorite place is Bryce Canyon Utah. I have found alot 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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  4. Apr 15, 2005 #3


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    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.
  5. Apr 15, 2005 #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.
  6. May 16, 2005 #5
    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.
  7. May 17, 2005 #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 a picture of our loot lately. I'm on the right behind a big chunk of a mammoth skull.
  8. May 17, 2005 #7


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    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.
  9. May 17, 2005 #8


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    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?
  10. May 17, 2005 #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!
  11. May 17, 2005 #10
    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 "Eurogeul". So the sand is removed and the bigger fossil remains stay behind. And the first sole - place fishers after the winter will have all those remains in their nets. So some people like the guy on the left, Dick Mol "Sir Mammoth" know all those tricks.

    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.
    Last edited: May 17, 2005
  12. May 17, 2005 #11
    If you'd like to know more about the fossile treasures of the North Sea I recommend this book.
  13. May 17, 2005 #12
    Andre, I am sooooo jealous! It looks like you had a great time.
  14. May 17, 2005 #13
  15. May 17, 2005 #14
    I use a 16 ounce wood{hickory} handle, Its served me well for over 20 years.
  16. May 17, 2005 #15


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    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.
  17. May 17, 2005 #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.
  18. May 18, 2005 #17


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    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.
  19. May 18, 2005 #18
    Excellent. And to be sure to keep that desire I'll show some more pictures:

    The mammoth skull fragment when how it appeared first after emptying the net in that box.

    some fragments of a juvenile steppe bison skull reassembled for the occasion by Prof Jelle Reumer and Dick Mol.

    a better look at the results Note the large fragment of the woolly mammoth tusk in the centre. It's diameter exceeds that of the Yukagir Mammoth, 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.
    Last edited: May 18, 2005
  20. May 18, 2005 #19
    Now, unfortunately it's in Dutch but there are some nice pictures with the report of that particular trip: http://www.pleistocenemammals.com/

    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.
    Last edited: May 18, 2005
  21. May 18, 2005 #20
    ok, ok, I know, here is a rough translation of that Dutch:

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