Tips on Collecting Fossils

A young fossil hunter works patiently to remove his find from its surroundings.

When you look for specimens in a quarry or on a shale slope, sit down or get on your hands and knees and look carefully. Spend some time in one spot before you move on to another. Excellent fossils have been found in places other hunters have passed over many times.

If you find a well-preserved fossil embedded in rock and you are not certain that you can get it without breaking or destroying it, don't spoil the fossil. If you leave it, the wind and weather may help loosen the fossil from the rock, and you can collect it on your next visit.

If you do decide to chisel a fossil from the rock, be patient and take your time. If possible, chisel a narrow trough around the fossil, taking care always to point the chisel away from the specimen. When the trough is as deep as the fossil, or deeper, strike the base of the pillar you have made and the fossil should pop out.

Where the rock is very fossiliferous, it may be worthwhile to take small blocks of rock and break them into pieces with your hammer. In the process, the rock tends to break around the fossils. If there are enough fossils in the rock, you will get some unbroken specimens.