How to Find Fossils in Your Backyard

Exceptional 5-Step Guide on How to Find Fossils in Your Backyard

Imagine taking a journey back to 1 million years ago. How would the experience be like? This is the exact feeling you will have when you discover a fossil in your backyard.

Fossils are essential connectors of the past and present times. They help humans figure out how life used to be a hundred, thousands, or millions of years ago. Each fossil discovery opens a new page to the ancient world.

Also, fossil hunting is an adventurous and exciting task full of mystery. It allows you to contribute to developing a complete evolution story. Learning how to find fossils in your backyard can be a breakthrough to having a page in the scientific discovery books.

How to Find Fossils in Your Backyard

1. Determine the type of fossils to find

Different places will have different types of fossils. For example, if your land lies on a formally woodland place, you will likely get tree fossils. In the same way, you will find aquatic fossils in areas that were once swampy or water bodies.

Having information on the type of fossils that you can find in your backyard is essential. It will save your time and help you do your search efficiently.

Here are some tips for determining the type of fossils found in your area:

  • Check out the geologist fossil classification of your area
  • Visit the local museum for information
  • Use the fossil discovery app
  • Find information on other fossil discoveries in your locality. 
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Tree Trunk Fossils

2. Know the best sites to look for fossils

Fossils are not everywhere, and not everyone has the opportunity to site on a fossilized yard. But knowing the right place to look for a fossil can ease your hunting mission.

Typically, fossils reside on sedimentary rocks. You will rarely find any in granites and basalts rocks. Also, you can look out for fossil traces in quarries, coal mines, and volcanic rocks.

If your land lies in any of these sites, you will likely discover a fossil in your backyard.  So, you must know the best sites for fossil exploration missions before you dig up your yard in vain.   

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Sedimentary rock

3. Understand the legal requirements

States differ on rules governing fossil exploration. For instance, you cannot collect vertebrate fossils in the US without an institutional permit.

Also, the government restricts fossil exploration in some areas. Before kicking off your fossil-finding journey, you need to understand these rules and regulations.

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4. Work with a geologist

Finding fossils can be a fulfilling mission, but without the right exploration skills, it will be in vain. For example, you need to understand how to find fossils in rocks. You also should have tracing skills and avoid digging your yard effortlessly.

The best way to avoid these aspects is to work with a geologist. You can get one from your local natural history museum. The geologist will act as your mentor and offer the right tools for the fossil-finding task.

Also read: How to find cool stones in the yard

5. Get the right tools

Having the right tools will make fossil finding an easy task. However, you do not need a series of equipment as most fossils are held loosely among the rocks.

Some of the tools you will require include:

  • Geological hammer for splitting the rocks
  • Safety glasses to prevent damaging your eyes with small chips of rocks
  • A camera
  • A plastic bag for holding the fossils
  • A mobile phone installed with fossil explorer apps

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FAQs about Finding Fossils in Your Backyard

How can you find fossils in your area?

You can find fossils through simple steps. First, determine the type of fossil you want to find and its prevalence in our area. Second, do your research to determine the places where you are likely to get fossils.

Some of these places include sedimentary rocks on the river banks, quarries, coal mines, and beaches. Remember, different rocks have different ages and will contain varying fossils. So, you need to do your research perfectly to avoid wasting your time looking for the wrong things.

Also read: Landscape rock rakes for lawn tractor

When is the right time to look for fossils?

You can find fossils at any time. However, winter is the best time for fossil finding, particularly when your backyard is next to the beach. 

During the season, the beaches experience rough seas and high that reveal a large number of fossils. But you need to be careful as the situation can be life-threatening. So, always go for the mission when the tides go out.

How can you identify a fossil?

Many people confuse a bone for a fossil. Not every bone found underground is a fossil. You can identify a fossil rock by checking various aspects such as:

  • Weight – fossils are heavier than bone. It is made of minerals which increase its weight.
  • Color – fossils are likely to have a dark color. 
  • Pores – these are small holes found in the bones’ structure. All fossils are porous
  • The surface texture – the fossils have a real texture and bone shape. Any smooth element with a definite shape is probably a rock or bone.   
  • Fossil finding is a fulfilling and adventurous moment. The task allows you to add a new page on world history. However, it can be challenging without knowing how to go about it.

    Fossils bridge the gap between the current and the ancient world. They can be everywhere, including your backyard.

    Learning how to find fossils in your backyard will play a central role in completing the evolution story. For instance, understanding where and what type of fossils to find can save time.

    Also, you need to know how to differentiate fossils and rocks and the types of rocks where you are likely to get some fossils.


    • Ricky

      Hi, I’m Ricky. I’ve been involved in lawn care and landscaping from when I was 15. To be honest, I didn’t like the idea of pushing mowers, collecting grass clippings, and maintaining flowerbeds at the time. But having seem the passion my parents had for gardening and outdoors and the effort they put in maintaining the health and beauty of our landscape, I couldn’t help but not only admire their hard work but also I became a part of it. As someone who loves to spend time with nature’s best, I find myself learning a lot more about gardening and outdoors on a daily basis. Not to mention I love to share the knowledge I’ve gathered over the years with my readers at We Mow Dallas. To be clear, I don’t have a Master’s degree in gardening or anything like that. Everything I’ve learned about gardening, landscaping, and lawn care spring from passion and engagement with my parents. And with a ton of free information out there, plus the ability to run tests and determine what works best for lawn care and landscaping, every day is an opportunity to learn and implement something new. My goal with We Mow Dallas is to teach you exactly how to maintain your lawn and landscape. And since I walk the talk in reality, you shouldn’t hesitate to join me in this wonderful world of landscaping and lawn care. K Beatrice

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