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Ray Eklund

Fossil Detective Process

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CraigHyatt    257
CraigHyatt

You are being too generous in my attempt to those members with an "unknown" by providing some difficult requests of information needed to identify a fossil found by a Forum member. I will attempt to clean up my language used in my first post, some to edit the message, and also adding what I consider other important details that help in all of the finds by members that stretch the imagination .

Fossil Identification is both an ART and a factor of EXPERIENCE. Both are skills fine tuned with field work and there is no experienced Forum member who wants to have a question to go unanswered. RichW9090 understands, just like Herb, and that is the point that some unknowns need to be recognized by the right person at the right time.

Ray,

The art and experience comment seems right. I just want to express my gratitude to all the experienced members for helping to identify my finds. I just started this hobby after I retired recently, and the feedback and other suggestions I get here are an enormous help. I am learning what things are *not* fossils that I can safely ignore, for example. Just going out and digging every day is helping to develop my eye for spotting things. Between this forum, Internet searches, and thumbing through books in the library, I am learning so much. Again, thanks for everyone's help.

Craig Hyatt

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Auspex    1,756
Auspex

...I am learning what things are *not* fossils that I can safely ignore...

There is not a member here who does not have a story about ignoring something, and learning later that it was actually fairly special...

When in doubt, keep it and ask! Some of the Forum's most educational topics are about "not fossils", and are great opportunities for critical comparison with the fossils they resemble. :)

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CraigHyatt    257
CraigHyatt

There is not a member here who does not have a story about ignoring something, and learning later that it was actually fairly special...

When in doubt, keep it and ask! Some of the Forum's most educational topics are about "not fossils", and are great opportunities for critical comparison with the fossils they resemble. :)

This raises a good point for a noob like me... Early on, I would take forever chipping away at rocks and picking up everything that vaguely looked like a fossil. Now I bust a few rocks and if I don't see anything, I move to a new area. I also stopped collecting anything that isn't clearly awesome -- like it has legs or fins. :-) I do take photos of anything that's interesting but doesn't meet the awesome test.

My theory is that early in the learning curve I want to gain knowledge and experience, even if I waste some good specimens because I break them or leave them behind. It reminds me of how I used to tear up old radios when I was a kid. I had no idea what I was looking at, but over time I learned what all the components were. Then I grew up to become an EE.

Either way, I am learning so much, and I really enjoy just getting out there and digging. Every day is a new adventure. :-)

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tmaier    835
tmaier

Craig... another tip about fossil hunting is that it is good to know the tiniest fragments of what you are looking for. The first sign of a promising site is that there are small chunks of broken fossils, and that means it is worth more investigation. When the conditions for fossilization are good, they are very good, and when they are not, the formation is often totally barren. These tiny fragments might not be recognizable at first as fossils, but they can lead you to the rich formations.

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CraigHyatt    257
CraigHyatt

Craig... another tip about fossil hunting is that it is good to know the tiniest fragments of what you are looking for. The first sign of a promising site is that there are small chunks of broken fossils, and that means it is worth more investigation. When the conditions for fossilization are good, they are very good, and when they are not, the formation is often totally barren. These tiny fragments might not be recognizable at first as fossils, but they can lead you to the rich formations.

So true. Since I'm new, I don't even know what to look for. I spent the whole morning digging through a layer of beach sand hoping to find some shells to date the layer. I just found a few fragments. There were inclusions of soft shale in the layer that I kept breaking because they didn't look like anything to me. I bet some of them were fossils. I am hoping that over time I'll refine my eye and learn to pick out the good stuff.

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fifbrindacier    502
fifbrindacier

I used to have the largest fossil education site on the web, and it included some mention of evolution. I had to remove my email address and leave it as a "view-only" site because I was bombarded by hostile lunatics. I wouldn't want that to happen to this site. It is quite lovely here... peaceful... friendly... censored... :D

That's right, i was in another forum where some pretentious people had very hard hurtful and abusive language against others because they were beginners and knew little or because they weren't french and had difficulties to communicate. I really didn't find that spirit here and i'm very glad of this forum. :D

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fifbrindacier    502
fifbrindacier

This raises a good point for a noob like me... Early on, I would take forever chipping away at rocks and picking up everything that vaguely looked like a fossil. Now I bust a few rocks and if I don't see anything, I move to a new area. I also stopped collecting anything that isn't clearly awesome -- like it has legs or fins. :-) I do take photos of anything that's interesting but doesn't meet the awesome test.

My theory is that early in the learning curve I want to gain knowledge and experience, even if I waste some good specimens because I break them or leave them behind. It reminds me of how I used to tear up old radios when I was a kid. I had no idea what I was looking at, but over time I learned what all the components were. Then I grew up to become an EE.

Either way, I am learning so much, and I really enjoy just getting out there and digging. Every day is a new adventure. :-)

I also am in that stage in my evolution of fossil hunter. I look at all stones that catch my eyes everywhere i am. Also for now i do not have time enough to go hunting in the most nearby sites.

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JohnBrewer    437
JohnBrewer

That's right, i was in another forum where some pretentious people had very hard hurtful and abusive language against others because they were beginners and knew little or because they weren't french and had difficulties to communicate. I really didn't find that spirit here and i'm very glad of this forum. :D

Yes....

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xamageo    0
xamageo

Hello,

I completely agree with Ray. The science is the science and the scientific method is used to discover how our world works. I can believe that the earth is plain, but the harsh reality is that the earth is round (or eliptical). We can respect all beliefs, but they are only beliefs, not science. Anybody can belief anything, but the scienctific comunity does not have to be carefull to not ofend any belief. Moreover, I think that it isn´t correct to put all the opinions in the same bag (it is not the same an opinion based in facts, that an opinion based in beliefs). To end my post I want to say that I think that the fosils history is the evolution history, and theses two concepts can´t be dissociated.

I think that the only limit is to be polite with everybody. If someone is polite I don´t understand that someone censure this opinion, and more when this opinon is based on science.

Xavi

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