How to Find Fossils in Your Backyard

By Jess Jones

When most people think of fossils, they automatically think of dinosaurs. However, a fossil is the preserved remains or imprint of any animal or plant from the past which is found in the ground and removed. Fossils are all around us. Preserved remains or imprints are considered Type I fossils. Type II fossils include anything made by an animal while it was living. Examples of Type II fossils include footprints, burrows and feces.

Go out into your backyard and carefully look around the perimeter. Look for anything that is out of place. Work your way to the center of your yard.

Use your butter knife and toothbrush to uncover anything you believe may be a fossil. Be gentle.

Add warm water and dish soap into your bowl. Mix with your toothbrush. Place items you have found in the bowl. Let stand for five minutes. Gently remove items and set them on a flat surface to dry.

Call your local department of parks and recreation or look the department up online to find out whether the locale you live in is rich in fossils. One resource you can use online is the National Park directory (see Resources). . River beds, bluffs and hillsides are great places to find fossils.

Call local geology and fossil groups and ask them about the possibility of finding fossils in your area. Some clubs will set a date to go out together to different sites and hunt for fossils (see Resources).