14 Best Places To See And Dig Your Own Fossils

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Although fossils are commonly found in museums, deciding to look for them yourself is also a great idea. The idea of fossil hunting, digging them up, and finding fossils on your own is exciting and adventurous. This child-like experience is what most fossil hunters live for. Fortunately, there are so many places in the world to dig your fossils.

These areas are rich in fossils, and almost every chance of finding one is high. While this list of pay quarries and parks isn’t exhaustive, it will help you get started. Fossil hunting can be a fun and addicting activity. You can find fossils everywhere if you know where to look and have the right tools. Here are some places to find prehistoric fossils if you plan to go on this adventure.

Dusting for fossils

1. Westmoreland State Park, USA

Westmoreland State Park is known as a fossil gem because of one major thing; the Megalodon teeth. This area used to be a shallow ocean, where the dino-sharks once lived. The dino-sharks had many teeth, with each shark having approximately 250 teeth spread across five rows. Megalodons were extinct, and their bones and teeth were fossilized beneath more rock. Their ocean home vanished, but the Potomac River exposed the layers of rock that contained their fossils. However, finding them isn’t so easy because they’re hidden in the sand at the Potomac’s riverbanks.

You can also find many other Miocene fossils on the riverbanks. These include fossils from early gators and dolphins, whales, fossil fish, and various mammals. Take the park’s Beach Trail for the best fossil hunting, starting at the visitor center and ending at the river. Westmoreland State Park also offers hiking trails, camping, swimming, fishing with the best braided fishing lines, and swimming which means you have more fun fossil hunting.

2. Caesar Creek State Park, USA

The Caesar Creek State Park in the ancient Ordovician ancient reef is the perfect place to relax and hunt for fossils. It is found in Ohio, making it easily accessible. These fossils include corals and trilobites. There are also some brachiopods. The fossils are plentiful that it’s hard to avoid stepping on one fossil while you search.

However, you need to obtain access from the visitors’ center that allows you to get free fossils before starting your search. The visitors’ center will provide a little booklet called ‘Common Fossils’ to help you identify the different fossils. Make sure you see the exhibits of fossils available at the Caesar Creek Spillway. There are areas where you aren’t permitted to use any tools, limiting you to fossils that are small enough for your hand.

3. Shark Tooth Hill, Ernst Quarries, USA

Fossil shark teeth are always fun to discover, and this location is filled with them. This desert area, located in Bakersfield, California, was once part of the ancient Temblor Ocean which means that sharks and other sea animals were living there in the Miocene period, which occurred around 15-16 million years ago.

However, megalodons aren’t common in this area, which means you can’t get their teeth that easily. But the challenge of fossil hunting is what brings the thrill, and getting a megalodon tooth means getting a gem. Other sharks, such as the powerful Carcharias Planus, were common and so were their teeth. You can reserve a spot by paying a fee. The hunting mainly involves digging up and sifting, and therefore, you’re provided with the tools necessary for hunting the fossils.

Fossil tooth

4. Purse State Park, USA

Purse State Park, also known as the Purse Area of the Nanjemoy Wildlife Management Area, is a small area rich in fossils. The most famous fossils here are shark teeth and the Cibicides shells found at the Potomac River’s Wades Bay. The Cibicides genus is a group of benthic foraminifera identifiable by their multichambered and plano-convex trochoidal shells. Their shells also have a flattened or dished-out evolute spiral side.

The park is an excellent place to hang out and go fossil hunting. However, there are no facilities at the day-use park so you should prepare. You can also pack a picnic lunch to break up fossil-hunting because you’re likely to get tired and hungry while hunting. On the positive side, you also have access to primo fossil hunting because you are free to visit, and the park isn’t crowded which gives you more comfort while doing fossil hunting.

5. Calvert Cliffs, USA

Calvert Cliffs is among the longest Miocene exposures stretching for more than 24 miles. The Chesapeake Bay has made it ideal for fossil hunting, especially for young families and those new to it. If you’re looking to enjoy looking for fossilized shark teeth, this is the place to go.

The abundance of fossils and eggs from dinosaur eggs is the Laurel Dinosaur Park hallmark. Every fossil that is found is sent to the Smithsonian Institution for verification. If it is deemed authentic, the name and address of the person who discovered it are displayed in the museum, making it an excellent way to be recognized as a great fossil hunter. A great tip is to stay at nearby hotels to get an early start on excavations before the sun sets too bright.

6. Mons Klint, Denmark

Mons Klint is a fossil-rich beach on the island of Mon in Southern Denmark. Visitors and fossil hunters can visit this region to enjoy the rich fossil information that the museum has. To reach this stretch of coast, visitors must travel through a dense forest that is home to rare orchids and unusual pale green beech trees permanently dyed by chalk cliffs. At the high end of the cliffs lies the GeoCentre Mons Klint’s, which is an information-rich museum.

This Mons Klint is unique because of its remote and ethereal nature. However, visitors can only access it by car or a long hike. So start your day off right by checking into nearby hotels. Then you can start early and hunt in one of Europe’s most fossil affluent areas.

7. West Cape, South Africa

The West Coast Fossil Park is full of excavations which form an excellent observation site for amateur paleontologists. It houses fossilized animal life that dates back to 5.2 million years. Over 200 fossilized animals, including a saber-tooth cat, have been discovered. While visitors are not allowed to collect fossils, they can observe the professionals at work. But this doesn’t mean that you can’t discover them.

You will be in the best position to identify the fossilized footprints at the Langebaan Lagoon if you check-in at a hotel near the site, as you’ll have more time. Remember to verify with local authorities if you are allowed to take fossils from a specific site. But you can also enjoy them, and leave them for others.

8. South Dakota, USA

You’ve probably heard about dinosaurs or their remains without actually seeing or touching any of them. There are sites wherein one can find and keep dinosaur fossils. South Dakota is known to be one such area, with its extensive creek formation called the Cretaceous Hell.

A reliable adventure company can take you back to the famous and ancient dinosaur land, where you’ll search and excavate dinosaur fossils. Often, you will find remains of renowned dinosaurs like Edmontosaurus and Triceratops. However, you will need to pay a fee and reserve your spot in advance. This outfitter that charges per dig are excellent hunting for the fossils.

9. Big Brook Park, USA

New Jersey is also known for its fossil discoveries. Marlboro’s Big Brook Park contains the teeth and vertebrae from the goblin and mackerel sharks. You can also find the remains of Mososaurs, mollusks, and Belemnites, which are late Cretaceous marine cephalopods. Moreover, the continent’s first nearly complete dinosaur skeleton was found in New Jersey, which shows how fossil-rich the region is.

You can look up fossils from these creatures or take your hunt a level higher by looking at which other fossils are available at these locations. It will help you know what you should be looking for when you decide to go hunting.

10. Penn Dixie Fossils, USA

Fossil parks are an excellent option for those who want to find treasure. The Penn Dixie Fossils are located in New York State and can be accessed from late April to late October. For less than USD $10 per person, you will have the opportunity to see some of the most valuable fossils, trilobites. You can also find prehistoric crabs and starfish, sea lilies and starfish there, as well as petrified wood, paleozoic fish, and mollusks.

If you aren’t sure where to start, you can participate in the annual “Dig with the Experts” event. It includes getting extra digging equipment and scientists on hand to assist you in identifying your finds. All fossils are from the Middle Devonian period.

11. Dorset, UK

The Jurassic Coast is a 95-mile stretch stretching from East Devon to Dorset. It means that fossils are a significant draw here, and you can’t miss something when you go digging. This region is extremely vital that England made its first World Heritage Site in 2001. The limestone cliffs, which include the Durdle door arch, are made of sedimentary rocks and are rich in fossils.

The fossils are available for amateur paleontologists to pick up, so here’s a place that you can start from. However, it is forbidden to chisel the fossils out of the rocks. If you have problems getting the fossils, find someone more experienced to help you in the digging.

12. Nangetty, Australia

Nangetty’s coal mines were once believed to have saved the region’s economy. Today, they are being repurposed for another kind of conservation. The Coal Seam Conservation Park preserves the naturally preserved marine fossils of the region and has therefore become a significant fossil hunting ground for most people.

Even though Riverbend is the most fossil-rich area, it’s worth visiting the limestone cliffs nearby — dating back to the Permian era — as well as spending an afternoon at the Fossil Picnic Area located on the East bank. You can also combine your hunting with some days at the beach to have more fun.

13. Florissant Fossil Quarry, USA

Colorado is another famous spot for fossilized remains and dino bones. The Florissant Fossil quarry’s shale contains preserved remains of insects and plants. All the necessary tools and instructions are provided to help you split the shale into fossils. So, amateur hunters who don’t know where to start or what tools to use can still hunt successfully. If you prefer to hunt for fossils right in your backyard, they can sell you bags of their shale. Moreover, they’ll tell you all you need to know about the inside of the shale and how you can get your fossils from them.

You can also stop by Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument while you are in the area. While you can’t remove fossils from the National Monument, you can view some incredible specimens and great examples that you might find at the quarry. It gives you an idea of what to look for when you dig.

14. Zigong, China

It’s no surprise that Zigong, a relatively small town, has the most dinosaur fossils and attracts more than seven million people each year. The Zigong Dinosaur Museum is located in the Dashanpu fossil location. It mainly displays exhibits from the Jurassic, Mesozoic, and even a fully reconstructed archaeopteryx.

Fossil hunters and lovers can visit this town to look at what the dinosaur world has in store for them. Moreover, it’s a child-friendly town, and you can go with your family. For younger children, there are many activities, including rides and film screenings and the opportunity to visit an open-air excavation.

Conclusion

Fossil hunting is among the most fun and adventurous activities you can participate in. Whether you want to learn, collect, have fun, or know what the world before looked like, try fossil hunting. There are several sites to go fossil hunting. Some are good if you are an amateur, and some are good for an experienced paleontologist. The sites discussed in this article are good examples of where to go fossil digging. So pack your things and begin fossil hunting!

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Lisa Day

My name is Lisa Day. I am a traveling wanderer, writer and thinker from the Pacific Northwest. Highly ambitious and possibly naively optimistic, I want to see and experience as much as possible in this life because, well why not? My travel blog, Univagabond, is for nomads, 9-5ers and everyone in between. With travel stories, life musing and a few spirited rants, I hope it will inspire people out of routine humdrum and into an adventurous life in the real world.

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