Taylor McCoy, founder of the website Everything Dinosaurs, shares his extensive knowledge on starting and having a fossil collection. Taylor has previously been a guest on the podcast (Juratyrant – Episode 8), as well as a guest writer. And he has an impressive, extensive fossil collection consisting of over 60 items, which he is continually adding to (in his last post he had closer to 40).
Hi, my name’s Taylor McCoy. I’m a big dinosaur enthusiast and the founder of the Weebly site Everything Dinosaurs. I’ve had the great opportunity of being featured on I Know Dino before and now I’m back with some tips on how you can start your own fossil collection. There are a number of ways you can get fossils for your collection. I’ll go through all the methods I’ve used and also how to display your pieces.
Collecting Your Fossils
One method you can try is literally going fossil hunting. A number of areas have spots devoted to public fossil collecting. A quick Google search could really be useful. For example, the Montour Fossil Pit in Pennsylvania isn’t far from me, so I made sure to take a trip there. I was only there for a few hours, but managed to find over a dozen fossils of prehistoric clams, crinoids, and possible corals. I even found a geode as well. When looking into places like this, it’s important to do some reading on the place. Try to find out as much as you can. If possible, it wouldn’t hurt to try and contact the location if you have any questions. Most public fossil locations aren’t super remote, so you don’t need a ton of supplies. A good rock hammer, fossil identification guide/book, something to carry your finds in safely, and a bottle of water depending on the weather is really all you need. Just remember not to clear out a site so that others may come along and make their own discoveries.
Another way to collect fossils is by purchasing them. There are two main ways you can do this, online or in person. When purchasing fossils online, it’s important to buy them from a reputable dealer. A certificate of authenticity isn’t a requirement, but certainly wouldn’t be a bad thing. I will include a few links to sites I’ve used before and trust. Ebay is also an option, though I’d advise you to be careful. If this is the route you choose to take, make sure the seller has a good reputation and good reviews. Purchasing fossils in person(at a store or museum for example) is less risky, but might be harder to do simply because there aren’t a ton of locations. Some areas like Utah and Colorado have many stores that sell fossils due to their high concentrations in those areas. Like many websites, make sure the store is one with a good reputation. Museums are a safe bet and many museum gift shops feature fossils. I’ve used both stores and museums and have always left satisfied.
An alternative to actual fossils is fossil replicas. Good quality replicas are cheaper, more readily available, and less fragile than real fossils. Replicas are a good alternative to dinosaur fossils since good dinosaur fossils are so rare. I myself have many fossil replicas in my collection. These can also be purchased online and often in museums as well. Below I will include a link to a site I highly recommend for good fossil replicas.
Displaying Your Collection
Now that you have a collection, how do you want to store/display your pieces? I suggest displaying pieces that are of high quality and beauty, while keeping those lower quality, smaller pieces in safe storage. I say this because you likely don’t have room to show off every piece, so you might have to pick and choose. Replicas make great display pieces due to their nice finish and completeness. When displaying your fossils, do so in a safe way. You don’t have to necessarily keep them behind bulletproof glass, but keeping them out of reach of children or pets isn’t a bad idea. Remember these aren’t toys, but rather pieces of history and art. A shelf a few feet off the ground makes for a good display area, so long as the fossils aren’t teetering on the edge. If their aren’t any young children or rambunctious pets in your house, then a tabletop or desk is fine too, just keep an eye on them.
If you must store any of your fossils, do so safely. Try to keep them in boxes with padding or something similar. Then, I’d recommend storing these safely in drawers. Fossils and fossil replicas hold up well overall, but make sure you try not to store them in overly hot or humid locations.
My Own Collection
My own personal collection consists of some sixty plus fossils ranging from seashells to dinosaurs, along with over a dozen replicas. It’s taken me over ten years to work on it and it’s still growing. All the pictures seen here are of my own fossils and replicas.
Take Your Time And Have Fun
Make sure you take your time when collecting fossils. Try to find pieces that are really unique. Above all else, have fun with it. Fossil collecting is a very fun and educational experience. It’s something everyone can get into. As long as you keep digging, you might be surprised at what you might be able to add to your collection.