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swag72

How can I make looking for fossils less daunting?

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swag72

I've read the beginners guide and have pretty much done what I can from there......

 

But here's the thing. Every day we go walking in a dried up river bed that is FULL of boulders and stones..... as well as in an olive grove that appears to be chalky and sedimentary in appearance.

 

I *think* I may have chanced upon some sponge in the river bed as well as some Ceriocava just lying around in the olive grove (some lumps of it are about 2ft in diameter) - But I am getting SO daunted in constantly looking downwards. How do I know if what I am looking at in a complete river bed of stones / rocks is anything more than that? How can i tell if any of the stones are fossils when I know so little? How do I know whats stones to even give a second glance to?

 

Here's anther thing for example - Looking at the geological maps of the Olive grove for example. It cites it as being from the Pleistocene period, but my fossil book says that the Ceriocava is from the Jurrasic period.... so now I have UTTER confusion.... I don't understand what is going on with this and how any geological map will help me on the path to identification.

 

Do you see what I mean? I go walking and my head is spinning. So where do I start? If you were presented with a dried up river bed full of rocks/stones how would you begin to make any sense of it? I don't seem to be able to make any sense of it at all and already having only just started I'm thinking that this is just too big to even consider.

 

I hope that some one can give me some pointers and a way to put some structure to my thoughts :)

 

Thank you.

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minnbuckeye

I started looking for fossils three years ago and remember having many of the feelings that you are experiencing. Is everything a fossil? My inexperienced mind thought so and I spent too much time exploring dead ends . By researching what my rock structure is and what is found within it, it did not take too long to decipher the difference between a keeper and just a rock. The internet is a great teaching tool and the fossil forum is a great source to help you on your way when an answer can not be found. Believe me, in a year you will look back on your current status and chuckle a little bit on how novice you were. Let me know in 12 months if you experience this transformation. In your situation, a creek bed can deliver fossils from many different strata but even so, there is still only  a limited number of layers that wash down your stream. Explore them all!! Main thing is to ENJOY the hunt. I am still a newbie wanting to learn more. But knowledge has made the hunt much more successful and enjoyable. Good Luck.

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ynot

Everything minnbuckeye said is good advice.

As for geologic maps-- they show the type (sedimentary, metamorphic or igneous) and the age of the rocks in an area, 

It does little good to search for fossils in areas of metamorphic or igneous rock exposures, as there are few fossils to be found there. So look for the sedimentary type rock exposures.

If the outcrop on the map is aged pleistocene then there are no mesozoic fossils there and the item You found is probably a suggestive rock.

Do some research on the type of fossils that are found in Your area, this will usually provide some locations to look. It will also give You a visual image of what to look for.

Most fossil bearing rock will not last long in a river - it is usually soft (compared to other types of rock) and brittle. Most fossils that will survive in a river will be in a rock and exposed as a cross section or worn print. Better fossils will be found closer to the formation exposures.

You can also seek out local clubs or fossil hunters, they can help You to figure it out and may even take You to good sites to search for fossils.

 

Good luck on the hunt!

Tony

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swag72

Thanks guys for your thoughts - Sadly living as an Expat in a very Spanish area in Spain, I'm not confident enough with my Spanish to try and join a club, so that's out a little. Like when I started Astrophotography a few years ago, it was a solitary existence with the massive help of forums and people willing to offer their expertise and thoughts.

 

I'll have to take pic of the Ceriocava as it looks exactly like in my fossil book.

 

I hope a year down the line I will find this post mildly amusing :)

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Kane

All good points, to which I can only add a few:

1. Like everything else, it takes knowledge, experience, and practice - and all of these take time. Fortunately, this is a lifelong kind of hobby, and fossils are very patient in most cases :P

2. When looking at maps, do pay attention if they are surface or bedrock geology maps. If the former, these will indicate - you guessed it - surface features like glacial deposits, till, moraines, and the like, and won't likely be very old. That being said, bedrock geology will tell you what is beneath all the deposits, but not everything is exposed: you'll find plenty of soil, foliage, and buildings just covering it all up. Like Tony said, instead of looking down, look ahead at the exposed formations.

3. Pick up anything that looks different and curious to you. Post pictures of them here to enlist our help. After a while, you'll develop the keen vision to pick out fossil from suggestive rock. Focus on one small area at a time to avoid getting overwhelmed. Since you say you're going out to the riverbed every day, focus in one place today, a different one tomorrow, and so on.

4. You're already reading and researching. Keep going!

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KCMOfossil

I am also new to fossil hunting; I’ve been at it about three years now. A common thread in the comments you have received so far is that it takes time. My own experience has entailed a growing ability to see what is in front of me. At first, I saw less because I knew less what I was looking at. Over time, I have grown in knowledge and see more fossils (and I expect this growth to continue for years to come). I used to think fossils were somewhat rare, but now I realize that here in western Missouri they are abundant. My informal study of the geology and paleontology of my area have helped, but even more important has been continued curiosity/fascination and observation in the field.

 

Enjoy!

 

Russ

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swag72

Thanks guys for all of your thoughts :)

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Plax

I hope this isn't too obvious but there is a mountain of literature available with a simple google search. For instance try searching "fossils Olocau spain". No hits with that? Try the next geographically larger search. Your province etc. You will get a lot of technical literature in your search but it will almost certainly have site information. Even a search of something as simple as "fossil collecting in spain" will give you much help. You might also make an appeal to spanish residents that are members of this site. Good luck

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