Category: Guides

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How Fossils Formed (TAPHONOMY)

The most common method of how fossils formed is once an animal or plant dies, it falls to the ground, and is covered by sediment. This is often sediments brought from water. Of the vast amount of prehistoric life that died, it is only a tiny amount that has survived the fossilisation process. The conditions when the majority of life died were just not right at that time, to preserve them.

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Where to find fossils

Fossils can be found in many places, most fossils are found on the beach or in quarries but many have been found in some very unusual places. Below is a list of places that you could find fossils. Please note some places such as quarries and farm fields need permission before you can enter, other places where fossils form part of the construction such as sea defences and walls, should not even be attempted. Damaging other peoples property is not only illegal, but morally wrong.

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What is a fossil?

The word Fossil used to be defined as ‘something dug up’. Now-a-days it generally means ‘The remains or trace evidence of prehistoric life’. The study of fossils is called palaeontology; someone who collects and studies them is called a palaeontologists. Fossils can be as tiny as a grain of pollen or a seed for e.g. or as huge as a limb bone from a giant dinosaur. For animal or plant remains to have become ‘fossilised ‘, they must go through a certain process that preserves them for up to millions of years after they have died. Usually it is only the hard parts of plants and animals that survive this long process.

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Equipment Guide

When fossil collecting, you will need the correct equipment. Often, each location will differ and of course depending on the weather and time of the year, you will also need to consider the correct clothing.If you are collecting in a quarry, there are important health and safety requirements by law. These are that you must wear a hard-hat, high visibility jacket and steel-toe-cap boots. This guide explains the recommended equipment you should take, both for your own safety and also the tools you might need.