How To Identify Fossils

You found that you had a problem with some underground pipes and decided that hiring a plumber to dig up your yard would cost more than if you did it yourself. You already have an Idiot's Guide to Plumbing, so what's the harm? After a whole day of digging, you end up with a bigger waterline problem than you had before and a yard that would make the Everglades look like a playground. 

Before you decided to give up, you found a piece of bone that the neighbor's dog probably buried in your yard again. But six feet deep underground? Even a St. Bernard couldn't dig that deep right? So how did this thing get in your yard in the first place? Before you start thinking you are in possession of the chicken bone that your great, great grandfather threw out when they used to live there, why not find out if there's more to that bone than meets the eye. 

Fossils are preserved pieces of organisms and geological materials found all over Earth. Since they are found in all seven continents, it wouldn't be surprising if a hardly touched piece of land could yield one or two fossils. The point is, if you're wondering if you found a genuine fossil, then there's a way you can find out for yourself if it is indeed genuine. 

  • Fossils come in many forms, whether it is an actual body, a piece of bone, a plant, mollusk, etc. Of course, if it's shaped like an object that you see on a daily basis, it's not a fossil. It might be an artifact but that's another story. You can easily identify it if you're aware of the common organisms and materials that can be fossilized.
  • Make sure that you are indeed looking at a fossil from the past instead of a decently preserved chicken bone. Some pieces of wood, seashells, corals and rocks can be mistaken for fossil bones but it is possible that they too are fossils, depending on the category they are in and how long they've been preserved. 
  • Use references like the Internet and books about fossils to identify your findings. It is also useful if you check if the area you found the potential fossil has a history being an area where fossils have actually been found. This helps your case a little more, allowing you to pursue the situation further. 
  • Some types of land areas have zero chance of containing fossils while some are fossil hotbeds. For example, some countries contain fossils of animals and plant life that don't exist anywhere else and if you found one, it's likely that it's not authentic. But double-checking can't do any harm. 
  • If you aren't in possession of one and are looking to find a fossil of your own, you should think of looking at places where some are likely to be found. After finding an area or city that has a history of fossil discoveries, you must find the easiest and likeliest spot to find fossils. These are construction sites, quarries, riverbeds, cliffs and shallow creeks and streams. You will find an assortment of fossils in such places because of the exposure of earth. 
  • There is a big possibility that you will find a fossilized egg. These are rare cases and are easily distinguished from normal fossils. Usually, they are found in groups, which tell you that they are definitely authentic. 
  • After identifying the fossil by yourself to the highest degree that you can, it is time to turn to the professionals so they can look at your findings. You should know that not every archaeologist, geologist or paleontologist has the time to entertain everyone who thinks they have a fossil, so it might be a good idea to just go to the local university and consult with some professors that specialize in that area. You can contact organizations that are in this field as well just in case. 

Now that you know what to look for, it's time to put your knowledge to test and find out if you can tell the difference between a fossilized bone from a dried up old chicken wing.



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