To find a fossil, you have to know where to look. You can:
READ about where other people found fossils.
STUDY geologic maps to find where the right kinds of rocks occur. Fossils are usually found in sedimentary rocks--rocks formed from sediments carried by wind, water or ice, and deposited in layers. When animals die, their bones might be preserved as fossils if they are buried by sediments before there is time for them to disintegrate or be recycled by other organisms.
"PROSPECT" for fossils by looking for evidence of bones in rocks. Fossil vertebrates can be found in many different situations:
Knowing where to look and recognizing fossils takes practice, but there are many places where fossil bones can be found.
STOP: Before you look for fossils, you must have permission from the property owners to explore their land. This is also important when collecting on Federal or state property. Seek advice from the federal or state agency responsible for the land you wish to collect on before you collect. Different land management agencies have different regulations concerning fossil collecting, and you need to know the rules that apply.
Worth the Time?
You have to be selective about your digging and collecting time. Bones are worth collecting if:
One good place to look for fossils is in a quarry or mine where a lot of digging has already been done for you. In this example, you have special permission to collect in a limestone quarry in South Carolina, where fossils of marine vertebrates from two different periods of Earth's history have been found before. To find more fossils, here's what you'll look for:
They could be:
STOP: This is an active industrial quarry - watch out! Wet spots could be mud holes that will swallow you up to your knees. Keep clear of quarry trucks that could run you over. And stay away from quarry walls - pieces of rock can fall on your head.