Practical Field Tripping

The fossil collector can learn the locations of currently productive fossil sites from other collectors, and from museums, university and state geologists, recent guidebooks, and articles on field trips in hobby magazines. He may also search through professional journals, such as the Journal of Paleontology, for those articles that list sites for collecting the fossils described in the articles.

Thus the field trip begins at home, where decisions about destination and itinerary must be made, and skill in recognizing particular fossils must be developed.


Several considerations enter into decisions about the destination of the trip. The time of year is important; so is the suitability of the climate for outdoor collecting. Equally important is the collector's particular interest or specialty. He may prefer fossils of one period, such as the Devonian, or of one type, such as trilobites. Desert regions are fit for man or beast only from September through May; high-elevation fossil sites of the northern Rockies are snowbound for about the same period.

Sensible travelers not only make careful plans for their trips, but they also schedule alternative collecting areas. Their first choices may prove to be inaccessible or they may have been used as building sites or dumps, or may have been over-collected.

Besides knowing where they are going in such detail as the obscurity of the area requires, good collectors allow ample time to reconnoiter the location. It takes time to discover fresh deposits at a heavily collected location or even to trace out the geology of one that is less well known. Field work is usually preliminary to the actual collecting.

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