Amateur Fossil Hunting

Filed under: NEW- fossils,Video,field trip reports — Gary December 3, 2011 @ 6:38 pm

Check out this new amateur fossil hunting site.  They plan on giving RockHoundBlog a field trip report every time they go on an expedition.  Check out their site!   Can’t wait to read what they send me.   Check out the fossil videos at bottom of article!



UKAFH is an amateur fossil hunting group formed in October 2010, founded by Craig Chapman and Rob Allen from Kettering, Northamptonshire.

Craig and Rob

Craig and Rob

With a keen interest in fossils and the prehistoric world Craig and Rob took an Open University degree in ‘Fossils and History of life’. They decided to attempt a couple of hunts in their local area to see what they could find. The first hunt was in April 2010 at Tywell Hills and Dales in Cranford, Northamptonshire. They began to search for other sites in the area but realised that there was not much information available for enthusiasts.

After some discussion they decided to create a website ( with the aim of meeting other people with the same interest and provide somewhere for people to share their knowledge, experience, thoughts and opinions. So finally KAFH (Kettering amateur fossil hunters) was born. Aidan Philpott joined UKAFH in November 2010 – he helped develop the UKAFH forum and developed a strong friendship with Craig and Rob. Craig and Rob decided to promote Aidan to co-head of UKAFH.

Kettering amateur fossil hunters

Kettering amateur fossil hunters

In September 2011 – after celebrating its first birthday – KAFH became UKAFH (United Kingdom Amateur Fossil Hunters) as the group had swelled beyond the realm of Kettering and become far more of an international affair involving members around the world and regular hunts organised across the UK.

UKAFH are not only an online group but fossil hunts are regularly organised with all members invited to join in. We have been to many sites including the Isle of Sheppey, Kings Dyke, Wrens Nest, Charmouth, Irchester Country Park, Grafham Water, Yaxley, Aust and and Tywell Hills and Dales. On these hunts we have found Reptile remains, sharks teeth, vertebra, seeds and plant remains, ammonites, trilobites, fossilised wood, coral, coprolite and lots more.


Reptile remains, sharks teeth, vertebra, seeds and plant remains, ammonites, trilobites, fossilised wood, coral, coprolite and lots more.

In October, we held our first UKAFH Weekender on the Isle of Sheppey in Kent. This was great fun and highly productive, consisting of campsite merriment combined with two days of hunting the London Clays.

UKAFH has become an social community and educational resource for young and not so young alike – not only are we an expanding online community, we also host monthly fossil hunts and we have been into schools and local community groups with our museum grade collections to discuss and explore fossiling and prehistory with an informal, fun and interactive approach.

finding fossils

finding fossils

All with an interest – whatever age, experience, background, belief, geography, beginner, amateur or professional are welcome to join.

Messel Fossil Pit

Filed under: Great Finds-specimens,NEW- fossils,Rockhound Travel,Video — Gary August 25, 2010 @ 11:04 am

The Messel Pit (German: Grube Messel) is a disused quarry near the village of Messel, (Landkreis Darmstadt-Dieburg, Hesse) about 35 km southeast of Frankfurt am Main, Germany. Bituminous shale was mined there. Because of its plethora of fossils, it has significant geological and scientific importance. After almost becoming a landfill, strong local resistance eventually stopped these plans, and the Messel Pit was declared a UNESCO World Heritage site on 9 December 1995. Significant scientific discoveries are still being made, and the site has become an increasing tourism site as well.




Brown coal, and later oil shale was actively mined from 1859. The pit first became known for its wealth of fossils around 1900, but serious scientific excavation only started around the 1970s, when falling oil prices made the quarry uneconomical. Commercial oil shale mining ceased in 1971, and a cement factory built in the quarry failed the following year. The land was slotted for use as a landfill, but the plans came to nought, and the Hessian state bought the site in 1991 to secure scientific access. In the few years between the end of mining and 1974, when the state started preparing the site for garbage disposal, amateur collectors were allowed to collect fossils. The amateurs developed the “transfer technique” that enabled them to preserve the fine details of small fossils, the method still employed in preserving the fossils today.

Due to the extraordinary fossils, the pit was declared a UNESCO world heritage site in 1995, the only place to be placed on the list exclusively due to fossils.

Many of the known specimens from the site have come from amateur collectors, and in 1996, an amnesty on previously collected fossils was put in effect, in the hope of getting privately owned collections back into public ownership and available to science.

Depositional characteristics

The current surface of the Messel pit is roughly 60 m below the local land and is about 0.7 km² in area. The oil-shale bed originally extended to a depth of 190 m.[4] 47 million years ago in the Eocene when the Messel deposits formed, the area was 10° further south than it is now. The period was very close to the Paleocene–Eocene Thermal Maximum, and the climate and ecology of the site were very different. A large series of lakes, surrounded by lush sub-tropical forests supported an incredible diversity of life. The Messel lake bed was probably a center point for drainage from nearby rivers and creeks.

A fossil of the primitive mammal Kopidodon, showing outline of fur

The pit deposits were formed during the Eocene Epoch of the Paleogene Period about 47 million years ago, based on dating of basalt fragments underlying fossilbearing strata. Oil shale, formed by the slow anoxic deposition of mud and dead vegetation on the lake bed, is the primary rock at the site. Its sediments extend 130 m downward and lie atop an older sandstone foundation. The fossils within the shale show a remarkable clarity and preservation due to the unique depositional characteristics of the lake. The upper stratifications of the lake most certainly supported a variety of organisms, but the bottom was subject to little disturbance by current, spawning a very anoxic environment. This prevented many epifaunal and infaunal species from inhabiting this niche, and thus bioturbation was kept at a minimum. Overturn of the lake layers (caused by seasonal variations) lowered oxygen content near the surface and led to a periodic “die-off” of aquatic species. Combined with a relatively low rate of deposition (0.1 mm/yr), this provided a prime environment for the preservation of fauna and flora.


The Messel Pit provides the best preserved evidence of Geiseltalian flora and fauna so far discovered. Most other sites are lucky to contain partial skeletons, but Messel boasts extensive preservation of structural integrity, even going so far as to preserve the fur, feathers, and “skin shadows” of some species. Unusual preservation has sparked some closely-reasoned interpretations. The symptomatic “dumb-bell”-shaped bite marks on either side of the leaf vein on a fossilised leaf have been identified as the death-grip of a carpenter ant terminally parasitized by a fungus that, apparently then as today, comandeered its behavior, in order to release its spores from a favourable location; it is the earliest concrete sample of fungal behavioural manipulation.

The diversity of species is no less astonishing (thanks in part, perhaps, to the hypothesized periodic gas releases). A brief summary of some of the fossils found at the site follows:

  • Early primate fossil with anthropoid (i.e. non-lemuroid) characteristics (discovery made public May 2009), (see Darwinius masillae)
  • Over 10,000 fossilized fish of numerous species
  • Thousands of aquatic and terrestrial insects, some with distinct coloration still preserved
  • A plethora of small mammals including pygmy horses, large mice, primates, ground dwellers (hedgehogs, marsupials, pangolins), aardvark relatives, and bats.
  • Large numbers of birds, particularly predatory species.
  • Crocodiles, frogs, turtles, salamanders, and other reptiles or amphibians
  • Remains of over 30 distinct plant species, including palm leaves, fruits, pollen, wood, walnuts, and grapevines


Exhibits from the pit may be seen in the Messel town museum, the Museum of Hessen in Darmstadt (5 km from Messel) and also the Senckenberg Museum in Frankfurt (some 30 km from Messel). Casual visitors can park close to the pit and walk around 300 m to a viewing platform overlooking the pit. Entrance to the pit is only possible as part of a specially organized tour.

Thanks Wikipedia

Paleontology and Geology of Missouri / Mississippian Fossils of Missouri

Filed under: NEW- fossils,regular postings — Gary November 22, 2007 @ 11:51 pm

I posted about Barry Sutton below but wanted to list all of his educational sites. Here they are…


This site is a Paleontological research project based in
St. Louis, Missouri, devoted to the study of the geological
formations in Missouri. Primary focus is the study of the
geological formations in the St. Louis area.

This link takes you to a discussion by Dr. Norman R. King, Professor of
Geology at the University of Southern Indiana, about the rocks exposed
at the I-170 highway cut. Dr. King describes the rock units and correlates
them with rock units elsewhere in the Midcontinent region. He interprets
their environments of deposition, and also places them in the context of
larger-scale geological processes taking place in the Midcontinent region
and around the globe during the Pennsylvanian Period.

Mississippian Fossils of Missouri
Primary focus on the St. Louis, Missouri area


Fossil Menu

Burlington Formation

Fern Glen Formation

Ridenhower Formation
often incorrectly referred to
as the Paint Creek Formation

Salem Formation

St. Louis Formation

Warsaw Formation

Other Fossils (USA and World Wide)


Have fun, Gary.

Carboniferous fossils of the Moscow region of Russia

Filed under: NEW- fossils,regular postings — Gary @ 11:37 pm

My first post on Russia :)   I bumped into Barry Sutton on the net and found him and his sites to be a wealth of knowledge and down right interesting.  Here is his website on Russia and its fossils-


This website is presented to showcase Carboniferous fossils of the
Moscow region of Russia; an area that is world famous for beautifully
preserved fossils. This website provides an opportunity to see fossils
of those deposits that are poorly known outside Russia or have not
been illustrated with high quality photos. Some of the Late Carboniferous
(Pennsylvanian) fossils occur in both the Moscow region and in the
American midcontinent

The fossils shown here are grouped by geologic stage, illustrated on
the chart below. This shows the international stages of the Carboniferous
and the regional stages for Russia, west Europe and North America.


Gigantoproductus crassus Sarytcheva – brachiopod – Mississippian – Visean Stage

russian_brachiopod Gigantoproductus giganteus (Sowerby, 1822) – brachiopod – Mississippian – Visean Stage

Check out his site as its a very interesting read!



Filed under: NEW- fossils,Video,regular postings — Gary January 7, 2007 @ 7:04 pm

Now I could have had fun with the above title BUTT but it seemed too easy (ahem).  Anyways Donald let me show his coprolite collection, if anyone wants to add anything, comment away!

Coprolite1 Coprolite4Coprolite3Coprolite_large_2Coprolite_largeCoprolite2

Coprolites are fossilized faeces or animal dung. They form an important class of objects studied in the field of paleontology.

The name is derived from the Greek words κοπρος/kopros meaning ‘dung’ and λιθος/lithos meaning ‘stone’.