Finding fossils can be a fascinating and exciting pastime, and they can be found almost anywhere. Knowing what to look for and the best places to go however can make this a lot easier and more productive.
Things You Will Need
The best places to find fossils are invariably places which have a lot of ancient rock layers exposed. In some locations these layers are right on the surface due to natural erosion, excavation or other conditions. however in some places these rocks are miles beneath the surface, yielding no fossils at all that are accessible.
If there are any areas such as cliff faces with ancient rock exposed, or recently plowed fields, then they are often good places for finding fossils. This is even better if the sites haven't been visited by other collectors already.
Once you have found a decent spot, the next step is to find exposed fossils that can be taken out of the rock easily. Often ancient rock is soft, and can be scraped away quite easily when required. The most common type of fossil for people to find is an ammonite, which resembles a modern day nautilus.
Having found a suitable specimen, the next step is to look at whether it can be taken out without breaking it. The older the fossil is, then the more fragile it is likely going to be. However if the rock is soft, then the fossils will generally be a lot harder than their surroundings. If the surrounding rock is still very hard, then the fossil will likely be very hard to remove, and should generally be left alone.
Often fossils are found already removed in smaller stones, or even on their own. In these case the best places to look are in your own garden, or recently excavated or plowed land. Finding fossils in these areas is just a matter of spotting them as you walk around, and many people combine this with the use of a metal detector to find two kinds of things at once.
Lastly after you have found and secured a fossil, then taking it home and cleaning it is the last thing to do before displaying it. Try to remove small areas of soft rock and dust from the fossil rather then to much at once. Dusting the grime and rock away from the fossil is best done with a paintbrush, and washing should be done with water only and not anything abrasiveOnce you have the fossils cleaned and removed as best you can, then its time to take them home. Don't expect to find a complete T-Rex skeleton on your first try, finding anything at all should be considered a success, and most people tend to find only small fossils.
Tips & Warnings
Always make sure you have permission to be on any land you are looking for fossils on.
If you make a very rare discovery, such as a full skeleton, then calling in experts is the best way to get the fossils out safely.