Fossil Collecting?

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honduranhurricane
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Fossil Collecting?

Post by honduranhurricane »

My 5 y/o loves dinosaurs (as do many young boys, I know I did). Have picked up a couple of fossil teeth recently (Megalodon and Spinosaurus). Wondering if there are any collectors in the community that may have suggestions/tips about our new, but potentially growing, hobby?
hunoraut
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Re: Fossil Collecting?

Post by hunoraut »

email your local university's geoscience department.

they'll probably help with leads on some fossil collection sites.

it wont be sexy. mostly mollusks and crinoid stems and and boring prolific stuff like that
clip651
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Re: Fossil Collecting?

Post by clip651 »

For a five year old, you might also look at replicas for species he is interested in. A kid might be more interested at marveling at a full replica skull of something that wouldn't be affordable to own as a real specimen.

In our area you can find small common fossils in gravel, and I had fun as a kid looking for those. Of course, we had gravel in our playgrounds, you probably don't anymore.

Consider whether the interest is fossil hunting vs collecting (buying) vs learning about fossil animals through various mediums (looking at fossils, reading books about dinosaurs together, going to natural history museums, etc).
jebmke
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Re: Fossil Collecting?

Post by jebmke »

The beach is a great place to look for fossil shark teeth. They are pretty prevalent and various beach debris can be interesting even in the absence of fossils.
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Nowizard
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Re: Fossil Collecting?

Post by Nowizard »

There are geological parks in our area, surprisingly, where people can search for whale teeth or other fossilized objects though we live in Tennessee. I imagine it would be a wonderful outing for your son if such exists in your area. Dinosaur interest, at least for boys, appears to be as enticing as American Girls for girls in our experience with grandchildren.

Tim
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JMacDonald
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Re: Fossil Collecting?

Post by JMacDonald »

Depending where you live, there might be a Natural History Museum that has a dinosaur exhibit. The Los Angeles Natural History Museum has a nice one:

https://nhm.org/experience-nhm/exhibiti ... osaur-hall
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theorist
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Re: Fossil Collecting?

Post by theorist »

There are places in e.g. Montana and South Dakota — and probably elsewhere — where you can join paleontological digs for a small fee. Sometimes you find interesting things. (I’ve done this twice and found something very nice — a Rex tooth with root intact, that they kept — once, and it was an interesting experience.) It also gives you a bit of a feel for what goes on in more serious hunts. (If you’re really intent and have the $, you can also join e.g. expeditions to the Gobi desert where there have been remarkable finds, but this requires an investment of a few weeks and many thousands of dollars...).
adamthesmythe
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Re: Fossil Collecting?

Post by adamthesmythe »

Not much googling turned up

http://fossilspot.com/index.html
eucalyptus
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Re: Fossil Collecting?

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honduranhurricane
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Re: Fossil Collecting?

Post by honduranhurricane »

Thanks for the responses. Quite helpful! The Sotheby auction cracked me up. A little out of range for the time being, we shall see where my son's interests go.

Thanks again!
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lthenderson
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Re: Fossil Collecting?

Post by lthenderson »

honduranhurricane wrote: Sun Nov 22, 2020 3:03 am Wondering if there are any collectors in the community that may have suggestions/tips about our new, but potentially growing, hobby?
Watched a new show earlier this year on the Discovery Channel called Dino Hunters. It was a fascinating look into the business of hunting dinosaur bones. If you have access to the channel, you might consider streaming the show with your son.
clip651
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Re: Fossil Collecting?

Post by clip651 »

Also consider looking at (online?) gift shops from natural history museums. They know that dinos are big with kids (boys and girls), and tend to have a variety of educational and just fun stuff for kids that is dino and/or fossil related. They may even offer common and affordable fossil specimens, as well.
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Watty
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Re: Fossil Collecting?

Post by Watty »

honduranhurricane wrote: Sun Nov 22, 2020 3:03 am My 5 y/o loves dinosaurs (as do many young boys, I know I did). Have picked up a couple of fossil teeth recently (Megalodon and Spinosaurus). Wondering if there are any collectors in the community that may have suggestions/tips about our new, but potentially growing, hobby?
At one point in college I was a geology major before I switched to computer science so I know a little but but I am hardly an expert.

You need to distinguish buying fossils for a collection and actually going out in the field and collecting them yourself.

One thing you can buy in places like eBay is dinosaur gastroliths which are rounded polished stones that some dinosaurs used to grind up their food. Some dinosaurs did not have molars so they were like chickens in that they basically had a huge chicken gizzard where they swallow stones to mix with their food to grind it up. Over time the stones get rounded and in some cases polished too. They have found these with dinosaur skeletons but more commonly they are pooped out so there are some rock formations where these are relatively common so they are relatively inexpensive.

You can also find insects in amber online but you need to be careful about spending a lot since they are sometimes faked. Some of the amber is also mined illegally under very bad environmental, work conditions, and child labor so you should also be concerned about what you are supporting by buying that.

One thing to keep in mind is that most fossil collecting yourself is a lot different than picking up sharks teeth on the beach or splitting a rock and getting lucky and seeing a nice fossil.

Fossil collecting is usually hot sweaty buggy work digging through rock, that is then followed up by hours or days of meticulous work with specialized tools removing the surrounding rock matrix. If you look at "fossil preparation" on Youtube you can see some of what is involved but they make it look easier than it really is.

It will also be a lot different in different parts of the country and if you live in an area where most of the rocks are igneous or metamorphic where may be very few sedimentary rocks near you that might have fossils.

You may be able to find locations to collect fossils near you but you need to have realistic expectations about what is involved in getting the fossils that are anywhere near what you will see for sale online.

I've found some fossils over the years mainly by luck when I was out hiking. I have tried also going out to specifically collect fossils a few time and it has been pretty disappointing.

You might be lucky and live in an area where fossils can easily be collected but a five year old will likely be disappointed when they can't find a great looking fossil in the first half hour.
rixer
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Re: Fossil Collecting?

Post by rixer »

I don't really collect fossils but on a rockhounding trip to Delta, Utah we took a side trip to a place called U-Digg. It's a fee dig site where you break open slate slabs to find Trilobites. We spent 2-3 hours there and came away with many fossilized Trilobites. It was a lot of fun.
https://u-digfossils.com/

Another place is Fossil Safari in Wyoming. Another fee dig featuring prehistoric fossilized fish. I've never been there but seen many videos on the site. If I get up that way I'm going to go there.
http://www.fossilsafari.com/
clip651
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Re: Fossil Collecting?

Post by clip651 »

clip651 wrote: Mon Nov 23, 2020 11:04 am Also consider looking at (online?) gift shops from natural history museums. They know that dinos are big with kids (boys and girls), and tend to have a variety of educational and just fun stuff for kids that is dino and/or fossil related. They may even offer common and affordable fossil specimens, as well.
Quoting myself to add some example links from the Field Museum in Chicago - there are even little kits where you can "dig" a replica fossil out at home:

https://store.fieldmuseum.org/collectio ... kit-bundle

https://store.fieldmuseum.org/collectio ... ni_dig_kit

https://store.fieldmuseum.org/collectio ... ll_dig_kit

Plush toy that shows an image of the bones:
https://store.fieldmuseum.org/collectio ... saur_plush

And lots of other fun stuff if you poke around. That's just one museum. There are lots of others around the country.

Have fun exploring this with your son!
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honduranhurricane
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Re: Fossil Collecting?

Post by honduranhurricane »

Wow, the info is awesome!. Thanks so much. We are south of Boston, so the Harvard museum I suspect will be similar to the U Chicago one (i hope anyway). The trips that were noted, those might make good side trips as we do plan on heading to the Western Nat'l Parks in a couple of years.

Again, thanks so much for the information.
Calico
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Re: Fossil Collecting?

Post by Calico »

clip651 wrote: Sun Nov 22, 2020 8:03 am For a five year old, you might also look at replicas for species he is interested in. A kid might be more interested at marveling at a full replica skull of something that wouldn't be affordable to own as a real specimen.

In our area you can find small common fossils in gravel, and I had fun as a kid looking for those. Of course, we had gravel in our playgrounds, you probably don't anymore.

Consider whether the interest is fossil hunting vs collecting (buying) vs learning about fossil animals through various mediums (looking at fossils, reading books about dinosaurs together, going to natural history museums, etc).

This is a good idea! Here is a good website for bone replicas. I can't remember where I heard about it, but they have all kinds of specimens in the fossil category. https://boneclones.com/
RetiredAL
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Re: Fossil Collecting?

Post by RetiredAL »

honduranhurricane wrote: Mon Nov 23, 2020 9:41 pm
If you ever take your son to Yellowstone NP, include a side trip to the Dinosaur Museum in Bozeman Mt. It's very kid oriented.
Wilderness Librarian
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Re: Fossil Collecting?

Post by Wilderness Librarian »

As mentioned somewhere above, dinosaur tracks are visible as trace fossils in numerous areas. One is a restricted access park not far from Denver (can't remember the name even though I have been there twice on geoscience field trips). Also many years ago on a similar field trip in Texas where tracks in a modern stream bed were exposed by erosion and then later on erased by further erosion. I think there is a reference book or possibly website somewhere discussing where dinosaur footprints are exposed and visible to the public. This might be less frustrating and just as interesting as digging.
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windaar
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Re: Fossil Collecting?

Post by windaar »

As a kid I was very interested in fossils and found many in gravel at the playground and parking lot islands, or just hunting in local fields. That was lots of fun. Mostly found brachiopods, crinoid stems, other sea fossils, no dinosaur stuff. My parents took me to lapidary stores for a few treats. Trilobites are inexpensive and cool.
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D Newton
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Re: Fossil Collecting?

Post by D Newton »

I dont know where you live or if where your travels take you. But, if your 5-yr old is interested in dinosaurs, The Morrison Formation is a famous sedimentary (e.g. sandstone, mudstones) rock formation found in the western United States known for dinosaur fossils. Most of the fossils occur in the green siltstone beds and lower sandstones, which reflect ancient rivers and floodplains of the Jurassic-age period. This formation outcrops (present at the land surface) in Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, and Kansas (if i recall).
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Watty
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Re: Fossil Collecting?

Post by Watty »

rixer wrote: Mon Nov 23, 2020 1:30 pm Another place is Fossil Safari in Wyoming. Another fee dig featuring prehistoric fossilized fish. I've never been there but seen many videos on the site. If I get up that way I'm going to go there.
http://www.fossilsafari.com/
We almost went there a few years ago when we were passing through and had stopped at the nearby Fossil Butte National Monument but the timing was not right for us and it was a bit expensive for an unplanned side trip.

https://www.nps.gov/fobu/index.htm
honduranhurricane wrote: Mon Nov 23, 2020 9:41 pm The trips that were noted, those might make good side trips as we do plan on heading to the Western Nat'l Parks in a couple of years.
There are lots of threads on planning trips to the Western National parks that you can look up when you are ready to start planning that. They are very popular so it would be good to start planning that a year or more before when you want to go.

Even to just hit the highlights it would take at least five trips;

1) Yellowstone/Glacier
2) Southwest loop Grand Canyon/Zion etc
3) Rocky Mountains
4) California Yosemite/Sequoias
5) South Dakota Black Hills/Badlands

You might want to start researching them now to start figuring out generally what you want to do first so you are not overwhelmed when you are ready to take a trip.

All the national parks are real popular now and in particular the Grand Canyon and Yellowstone are really too busy for me to be really enjoyable during the peak summer months. If possible you might want to save then for when you can see them at a somewhat less busy time of year.

Here is a real interesting set of charts that show when the major national parks are busy.

http://jordan-vincent.com/night-under-the-stars

One of the keys is to not to try to see too much and really enjoy what you do see.
mrtwstr
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Re: Fossil Collecting?

Post by mrtwstr »

Since you mentioned being near Boston if you are ever in the mood to drive a few hours you should come to CT and see this:

https://www.dinosaurstatepark.org/

My kids absolutely loved it. You can even take plaster casts of the tracks.
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mhc
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Re: Fossil Collecting?

Post by mhc »

For fossils come out to the mountain west. Thermopolis Wy has one of the best museums and you can go out to the quarry and help. Como Bluffs Wy has a cottage made of fossils right along the highway. In Utah and Wyoming there are private companies that let you split rock to find fossils. You keep what you find. Here are some other places:
Denver Museum of Science and Nature
Mammoth Site Hot Springs SD
Dinosaur National Monument
Vernal Field House in Utah
Museum of the Rockies Bozeman Mt
Flouriscent National Monument
Ashfall State Park Nebraska

There are many smaller locations too.

For collecting, stick to the private locations. You can buy them or dig your own. The government owned locations only let you look and maybe touch.
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