Archives for June 4, 2013

Fossil Hunting in a Box and Some Tips for Getting Started {giveaway}

My kids carried five gallon buckets on our recent fossil hunting trip, and filled them full of fossil dirt from the pungo piles in the parking lot at the Aurora Fossil Festival.  They will slowly pour through the dirt, searching for fossils, over the next few months.  When I saw buckets full of fossil dirt for sale at the Aurora Fossil Museum, I knew I wanted to bring a bucket home to give away.  I picked up a few little visual guides to help with identification as well.

Jonny built a small set of nesting sifters to go with the bucket of dirt.

The sifter with 1/4 inch mesh nests into the sifter lined with window screen.

Fossil dirt can be sifted through the screens (about a cup at a time,) and the larger fossils will be caught by the 1/4 inch screen, while the tiny ones are caught be the window screen below.  Water is poured over the dirt to aid the sifting process and make the fossils easier to see.

These are some of the fossilized sharks’ teeth and other fossils that Seth found while digging through the fossil dirt in Aurora.

Since arriving home, he has found countless tiny little shark’s teeth in his bucket of fossil dirt.  You really have to look closely so that you don’t miss any.  It’s a nice slow process that requires some concentration.

If you look really closely, you will even find teeny tiny fossilized fish vertebrae in the dirt.

If you would like to win this “fossil hunt in a box” leave a comment on this post.

Because shipping would be prohibitively expensive (the dirt if heavy!) this giveaway is only open to my U.S. readers.  Thanks for understanding!  I’ll use random number generator to select a winner this weekend, and announce the winner within this post.

Comments are closed and the winner is Jess:  “WOW!!! My boys would love this!! They both already love to hunt for arrowheads, and this would be a great addition to their explorations. It would be even better to win this on my sons 7th Birthday today!!!! Keeping our fingers crossed!!!”

And now, here are a few links to help you get started if you or someone you know would like to start hunting for fossils in your own area!

First and most importantly, this site ( includes a list of fossil sites in the U.S. and Canada.  The U.S. is divided by state, and Canada by province and territory.  After clicking on the area you are interested in, you will find a chart with information about each specific location including the types of fossils found there (Of course there are tons of different types of fossils out there, we just live in a region that is rich in fossilized sharks’ teeth.)  In order to find more specific information than what is given, you will want to Google search the sites your are interested in.  So for instance, if I click on “Virginia” on the main list, one of the fossil sites that pops up is “Carmel Church.”  I then search “carmel church fossil hunting” on Google and a list of informative sites pops up, and hopefully I can figure out where exactly to go in order to hunt fossils there.

Seth’s favorite fossil site is Black River Fossils.  The site is dedicated to fossils and artifacts and is full of photographs and “trip reports” which are essentially descriptions of people’s fossil hunting trips including videos, photos, and more.  The trip reports are organized by state, and quite a few states are included.

A couple other websites dedicated to fossils, but more heavily weighted to the East Coast where we live are (lots of great photos there,) Phatfossils (click through the trip reports for photos and videos,) and The Fossil Forum.

Finally, here is a link to a tutorial on how to build a sifter for fossil hunting in water.

p.s.  The knitting in my previous post:  Knitting for bunny, not baby!