How to find a fossil?

Fossil hunting, doesn’t necessarily have a set of instructions to follow to get to your desired outcome (unlike baking a cake, for example). So it can be quite difficult to know where to begin and what to look for.

Generally, I like to hunt for fossils along the beach, where the fossils can be found loose along the shoreline (eliminating the need to carry around hammers and such).

Good areas to start of fossil hunting would be around the Jurassic Coast in Norfolk, around the cliffs in Hunstanton and at King’s Dyke Quarry in Peterborough.

I would recommend checking out the UK fossil hunting association’s website for more details on fossil hunting sites near you.

So now you’ve planned out where you want to go… Now what do you look for?

The types of fossils that you can find varies from place to place. So here’s a quick lowdown on common fossils…

Belemnites. These are the remains of squid like creatures. I end up finding a lot of these in the Norfolk area. What to look out for, is generally a cigar shaped rock. They have a hole at one end and taper off to a point (unless broken). Many broken Belemnites that I have found, tend to have a radiating crystal structure inside.
Fossilised shells. Generally, I don’t find that many fossil shells, though I’ve heard that they are very common in other areas. In some fossils, you may get an imprint of a shell on the rock or you may be lucky enough to get a really well preserved shell (like the ones shown above).
Sponges and corals. In general, it’s rather difficult to tell both sponges and corals apart. What to look for in these, is rocks with pores, repeating hexagonal shapes or dots on them. If you’re in doubt about keeping a funky looking rock (that you think might just be something); then hold onto it. It’s better to feel a bit embarrassed about keeping a rock that turns out to be nothing; than potentially throwing away a 360million year old sponge.

With the advancement of the internet, it’s very easy to post an image of a funky looking rock (or a fossil) to a public forum and get expert opinions and identification on your fossil.

So, no matter if you find a belemnite, fossil shell or just a hoard of funky looking rocks. You can be certain that there is plenty of information out there to help you in your search.

Good luck!

Petrified Lighting.

There are many strange and wonderful things that nature can make, but this thing in particular really amazed me…

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Ok, so… it looks interesting. But what is it?

 

Petrified lighting. Nope, April fools hasn’t come early; these little tubes are actually made by lightning striking the ground.

The heat of the lighting strike fuses minerals, dirt and sand together, forming tubes and clumps of lightning captured in a natural glass.

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The special name for petrified lighting is fulgurite.

All the colours and shapes that can be found in fulgurites are dependent upon the type of ground the lighting hits and what minerals and other organic matter is within this ground.

 

 

 

Natural History Museum, London. Part 1.

So my visit to the natural history museum in London, was epic. There was so much to see (I couldn’t get round to viewing all of the exhibitions in time.)

Here are just some of the awesome fossils that they had on display…

 

Pachycephalosaurus skull.

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This skull is just honestly really well preserved…

 

Mastodon skeleton.

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This big one was found in the US and is dated to be around 40,000-30,000 years old.

Mastodons are similar to Mammoths, but Mastodons have less curved tusks and Mammoths have more of a sloped back.

 

Fossilised sea urchin innards.

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Yeah, I know it sound gross; but this fossil just looks amazing (and you never know, it might be useful one day to know where a sea urchin’s gut is…)

 

Ptychodus Shark tooth.

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These unusual looking teeth were used for crushing the shells of molluscs and other shellfish.

 

Fossilised tail club.

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You can really imagine some armoured dinosaur just swinging its tail and smashing this right in your face (ouch)…

 

A (very) big Ammonite half.

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Not only is this Ammonite very large, it also possesses a crystalline interior. The polished finish really brings out its natural beauty.

 

The fossil Marine Reptiles.

 

I have never seen so many fossilised marine reptiles in one place…

These framed fossils line the whole hallway corridor. They even have specimens found by Mary Anning.

 

Stegosaurus skeleton.

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This is the most complete stegosaurus skeleton ever found. (I’m still very pleased with how my photograph of it turned out.)

 

Fossilised dinosaur skin.

As some of you may already know, fossilised tissues are quite a big deal.

Usually, when an animal dies, it’s soft tissues (like skin) are worn away or eaten at by scavengers, before they have a chance to become fossilised.

In this suprising case, the skin has been preserved as a very detailed fossil.

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Amazing Agate.

Agate. A very beautiful gemstone with many different forms and lovely patterns…

In today’s post, I will show you some of the types of agate.

All of the agates in this post are natural and have not been coloured in any way.

Snakeskin Agate:

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This lovely gemstone has some really beautiful lines across it that gives this type of agate its name. The formation is natural.

Crazy Lace Agate:

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This lovely gem is full of different colours and erratic patterns, making it really interesting to view.

Agate Geodes:

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Geodes form when minerals seep into a crack or hole in the ground (they can also be formed in volcanic rock) a fully filled geode is called a nodule. In this case, a lovely agate geode has been formed.

Moss Agate:

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This wonderful stone is a form of chalcedony that contains green minerals. The green parts of it look like moss (hence the name).

Blue Lace Agate:

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Blue Lace Agate is actually a type of banded chalcedony. It contains layers of alternating blue and clear/white stone.

Some examples of the colours in agate:

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The Trilobites.

Trilobites are probably some of the most diverse species that have ever lived upon Earth.

Having lived some 540 million years ago, these strange creatures come in many odd shapes and forms. (Trilobites are the most commonly fossilized arthropods.)

The Trilobites were marine animals that lived in saltwater, until their extinction in the Permian Period.

Like most Arthropods, the body is sectioned into the head, thorax and abdomen.

Here are some interesting examples of fossilized Trilobites:

What is a scute?

Scutes may be found on fishes, crocodiles, dinosaurs, turtles and birds.

They serve the same protective function as scales, but scutes are formed in the skin (rather than on the surface of the skin, like scales).

The word for Scute, comes from the Latin word for shield.

Here are some examples of fossilized scutes:

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Top: Fossilised Crocodile Scute.

Bottom: Fossilised Turtle Scute, found on the Isle of Wight.

I hope that this post has cleared up any confusion you may have.

 

Top five strange things found in amber.

Amber (also known as fossilized tree resin), can contain some really awesome things…

From insects to tails, here’s my top 5 list of the strangest things found in amber:

 

Number 5: Insect larvae.

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Insect larvae. This spiky little one looks really cute to my eyes. You can still see some similarities to more modern day insect larvae species, like the spiky ladybird larvae.

 

Number 4: Parasitic mite.

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This parasite was entrapped in amber along with the ant it was feeding upon. The photograph of this was caught through a microscope.

 

Number 3: Salamander.

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This was the first salamander ever found in amber. As a reptile lover, I really enjoyed finding out more about this find.

 

Number 2: Bird.

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One can only really see a foot with a perching toe, but scientists have discovered that the rest of this creature is a 99 million year-old bird.

 

Number 1: Dinosaur tail.

And the one that takes the top spot is this:

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This not only is this a dinosaur tail, but this amber also contains plant matter, insects and feathers from the tail.

 

So that’s my top 5 of the strangest things found in amber;

See you next time!

 

The quick shark tooth identification guide.

Ever picked up some strange looking tooth on the beach and wondered ‘what the hell is that?’

I hope that this guide will help you to understand more about identifying shark teeth.

Remember that this isn’t a complete guide; if there’s anything you think I should include, please let me know (my email is in the contact details).

Otodus Shark Tooth:

 

These have unserrated edges, can be up to 8-10cm long and possess one or more side cuspids. This particular specimen is still attached to rock.

 

Cow Shark Tooth:

 

These (as the picture shows) are in a row attached to the root. These teeth can get pretty small and they come in lots of different styles.

 

Megalodon Shark Tooth:

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Broken Meg tooth.

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Unfortunately, it is pretty difficult to find a whole Meg tooth. These teeth can be up to 7 inches in length. They have fine serrations and a visible V shape where the root connects to the tooth.

Update: 01/02/2019

Great White Shark Tooth:

 

 

Sand Shark Tooth:

 

 

Tiger Shark Tooth:

 

Final Major Project 2019.

The New Year is here already, and with it comes the Final Major Project…

As some of you may know, I am currently in my last year studying an Extended Diploma in General Art and Design.

I have chosen to focus upon fossils, in order to expand upon my own knowledge of this subject and to create a project which I will truly enjoy (I hope for this passion to show through in my work.)

I will keep you all updated on my project (while keeping up with my usual posts).

Good luck to the other students out there!

 

My experience with macro photography: Part 2.

So I promised you all another post and here it is!

For those of you who are new here, I’ve just started to experiment with macro photography as a part of my most recent art project.

I took all of these photos with a simple handheld microscope and my phone camera.

All photos belong to me and users must gain my permission before using them in any way.

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Aragonite. X45 magnification.
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Stink Bug. X45 magnification.
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Green Rose Chafer Beetle. X200 magnification.
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Gold flakes in a clear solution. X45 magnification.

 

Museum of Zoology, Cambridge.

The museum of Zoology reopened earlier this year. Needless to say, I had to pay it a visit.

Seeing all of the exhibits was amazing. One exhibit in particular stood out for me, though. This was the insects.

Viewing these really opened my eyes to the large amount of diversity that can occur within just a single species.

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I never knew grasshoppers had coloured wings! This was really cool to see up close.
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This particular bit showed a small collection of butterflies found in Britain. In here, one in particular caught my eye, the Swallowtail (Top left, the bright yellow one).
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Isn’t it pretty!?
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We usually see these little blue beauties up in Heacham, during the summertime.
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A small collection of British moths. In the middle you can see the goat moth (named so after the goat-like smell the larvae emit).
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This sweet little orange and white one was lovely.
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Tropical butterflies. These ones were pretty big. The only one I can identify is the owl butterfly (Top right-hand corner).
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I really loved the colours of this locust.
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Unfortunately, I’ve never been able to see one of these flying about in its natural habitat.
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These beetles were amazing! I especially loved the rhinoceros beetle, so I drew a picture of him when I got home. The males have these large ‘horns’ to fight with other males over food sources and females. Here are some more photos that I took:IMG_20180721_123126IMG_20180721_123151IMG_20180721_122441IMG_20180721_122322IMG_20180721_122226IMG_20180721_123114IMG_20180721_122250IMG_20180721_122255IMG_20180721_122300IMG_20180721_123232IMG_20180721_123120IMG_20180721_123107IMG_20180721_123132

 

 

 

My experience with macro photography.

So I’ve been having a go at macro photography for my art project. The results have turned out a lot more better than I expected.

Here is a collection of some of the photos I took (using a small handheld microscope and my phone camera).

All photos belong to me and users must ask permission before using them in any way.

IMG_20181026_115939This one is the back of a Green Rose Chafer Beetle. Viewed at 45x magnification.

IMG_20181026_115923And this one is the front of the Green Rose Chafer Beetle. Also viewed at 45x magnification.

A collection of butterfly wings (shown below), viewed at 200x magnification.

The wonderful colours of fossilized wood.

I often get the feeling that the beauty of fossilized wood is often overlooked, especially when it comes to their colours…

So I decided to share with you some images that truly show off the wonderful colours of fossilized wood.

Nothing beats the natural beauty of nature’s strange artwork and this striking slab of fossilized wood sure proves it (shown below)

IMG_20181124_200022Still not convinced yet?

Well, keep on reading and enjoy!

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Like with this beauty, sometimes opal occurs in the wood and we end up with wonderful colours like the blues and greens shown above.

I cannot fully imagine how heavy this large piece must have been (when fossilized, wood turns into solid rock). The colours on this one are; in my opinion, some of the best I’ve seen so far (shown below).

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The lovely tint of blue contrasts well with the grey tone of this piece (shown below).

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Even the warm hues of brown in this slab of wood, show up amazingly when polished to a smooth shine (shown below).IMG_20181124_200044