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Did you ever find fossils and where do I have to look for?
Question Date: 2001-12-04
Answer 1:

Yes, I have looked for and found fossils for many years. When I was your age I used to go fossil hunting all the time. I suggest you first go to the Santa Barbara museum of natural history and look at the local section of rocks. You can see which units are fossilerous. Then you can buy or find a geologic map of the area and it will tell you what units contain fossils and it will also show you where these fossil bearing units outcrop. You also can go over to UCSB WEBB HALL and look at the stratigraphic sections in the display cases on the first floor of Webb Hall.

Finally, if you hike up towards Inspiration Point , where the trail crosses the creek, you may be able to get off the trail and walk up the creek...keep an eye out for shell hash beds -these are sedimentary layers with a high concentration of broken up fossil mollusc shells.

Good luck. By the way, geologic maps of SB are available through the UCSB library

Answer 2:

I have found fossils many times! They are not common in all rocks, but if you are in the right place with the right rocks they can be very easy to find. You should look in sedimentary rocks (not igneous or metamorphic) --fortunately, many of the rocks in Santa Barbara are sedimentary. I strongly recommend going to the Santa Barbara Natural History Museum to see their fossils (to know what to look for) and to see where the fossils have been collected from. The La Brea Tar Pits in Los Angeles is even more stunning --it has one of the best fossil mammal collections in the country.

Pygmy mammoth fossils have been collected from the Channel Islands, but those are very rare. The Cuyama Valley Badlands in California are a rich source of fossil horse and camels.

Answer 3:

You are in luck in California, as there are may fossil beds in the local area. Common fossils found are sea shells and petrified wood fragments such as cane. I have found fossil shells in the San Rafael's and in wash basins of streams. The easiest to find fossils are found in limestone or sandstone sediment which can be identified by the layered deposits. (The layers may not be horizontal anymore!)

Check our local book stores for fossil finding maps -- these may direct you to areas witch have been well picked over, but you should look after a rainstorm has brought new rocks to the surface.

There are a number of good field guides -- petersons, golden books and others. These are useful to prevent you from over looking a fossil... I found my first fossil in Colorado on a bike trip (about a mile from my house) -- California is a great place for certain kinds of fossils. If you want to be scientific, always map and mark each find in your collection and correlate them to geological maps (which often date formations to geologic eras)...

Have fun!

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