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Readers Respond: The First Fossil I Ever Found

Responses: 27


From the article: Finding Fossils
Maybe it was a shell or a shark tooth. Maybe it was a GIANT DINOSAUR SKELETON! Whatever it was, it surely left an impression on your impressionable young mind.

Erie Canal

I live in upstate New York and spent my youth living by the Erie Canal. In the fall they drain the canal exposing rocks along the sides. I would bring a hammer and chisel and some empty egg cartons my mom would save for me. I would chip shells out of the rocks all day and then go home and check out my fossils. I still look for fossils when I am hiking and exploring the beautiful area where I live.

Crinoid stems

My first fossil specimen was actually given to me as part of an aquarium setup - a piece of chert loaded with crinoid stems. As soon as I was old enough to drive, I started looking for the spot where that specimen could have come from. I still have not found it, but within a few months I was hooked on geology and ended up getting an MS in geology!

Near by jogira pond

When i went to guda (kolayat, bikaner) with a well experienced teacher, i found a pretty brown coloured bivalve with proper structure. dat was my first field work and i got dat after having hardwork. that was superb experience!
—Guest Shikha sharma

hills and hollers

I found a road they call bullcreek road - seems like the name came from fossilized bullhorns - i have found mega horn corals - what can i say i didnt know any better either!

Paradoxides davidiis

As a student on a field trip in Wales we visited the Cambrian shale outcrop at Porth-y-Rhawr. A shard of the shale flew through my ear and a slab crashed to the ground. My ear bled profusely but when I looked there was 70% of this huge trilobite in the rock. I named him "Vincent".
—Guest Geoff Farrell

My first field trip

In my first year at university I took two classes in geology because they were never offered at my high school. One day, during the second term, we took a field trip to an Ordovician outcrop in Manitoba and it was fantastic. It was a quarrying area so lots of new stuff was exposed and a bunch of people just could not for the life of them find any fossils while I found a number of brachiopods, several trilobite molds, horn coral and a beautiful specimen of receptulites which is one of the stars of my collection to this day.
—Guest Brandon geologist

First fossil

My (distant) recollection of my first fossil discovery is of family holidays in the Southwest of England and visiting Cheddar Gorge, our Grand Canyon of the Carboniferous limestone. The fossil shells were hardly spectacular, but boy could a kid go to town collecting them! My poor father had to resort to packaging up my favourite finds and mailing them home - when the mailman staggered up to our door he asked "Wot you got in ere, rocks???" and was disgusted by my Dad's positive reply. On subsequent holidays, I graduated to what is now "The Jurassic Coast" - Lyme Regis, Charmouth, and, reaching up into the Cretaceous, the chalk cliffs of the gloriously named seaside village of Beer. Our house became festooned with belemnites, ammonites, and echinoids. Michael Welland (sandglass2)

Hunting, and finding fossils too

I grew up in Great Falls Montana. That's near some famous fossil country. All through my childhood I tried to find fossils. But the rocks near home (sandstone, shale) didn't seem to have any. As a teenager I could travel greater distances. I fished and hunted a lot. One day I was hunting in some ravines ten or twenty miles north of Great Falls. The ravines cut through soft dark shale. Scattered in the bottoms of smaller side-ravines were many softball-sized spherical rocks. When broken open each those rocks (concretions) contained a complete paired fossil clam! Another fossil related experience happened when I was home from college in summer working as a laborer. The location was no more than five miles from home. I was on shovel duty by a grader leveling a gravel road. The grader turned over slab of rock revealing an obvious whole fish fossil. A moment later the slab was smashed fragments. Another time near that area I found an outcrop with fossil oyster shells. So keep looking.
—Guest jelogan

I thought everyone had seashells

Growing up in San Jose's east foothills on an Apricot ranch, I just thought that everyone had seashells in their orchard. When my daughters were in preschool I offered to have their class come up and hunt for some as well. Over the past 20+ years I have had over a thousand children and a few adults hunting seashells in our orchard. Working in an elementary school library has the perk of endless groups of kids with which to share the love of rocks and fossils.

Later in life

As a kid, my friends and I spent countless hours at a local hardened clay deposit site, but never found a thing despite the numerous summers we went back. Many years later, middle-aged and with three kids of my own, we were sitting on the banks of a little creek near the upstate NY cabin I had just built. There, in between my feet I saw a slab of slate with literally hundreds of fossil imprints of scalloped bi-valves! Further searching in subsequent years turned up other fossils, but nothing like that first one, which I now proudly display on my desk.
—Guest Vince P


I was interested in anything related to geology such as rocks, minerals and anything related to science. I wanted to find fossils, but I had not found any at that time. Due to my interest in geology, an old woman we visted when I was around 9 or 10 gave me a perfect speciman of a Trilobite. I treasured that Trilobite like it was a million dollars. Today, after having gotten a masters in geology as well as having worked as a petroleum geologist, I still keep that Trilobite in a favorite spot in the house for everyone to see.
—Guest Bud Weiser

Beginners Luck

My first fossil find was a brachiopod. It had weathered out of a sheet of slate, and was absolutely beautiful. My friends and I spent hours looking for fossils in the an area behind my grandma's property. It was an area of classic slate layers, shaded from gray to black. We found a number of fossils there,and left all of them in the rocks. My brachiopod remains my inspiration to visit sites all over N. America to sniff out fossils and imagine when their owners lived and loved so long ago.

Maerilobitrble Mts. T

During my first geology field trip at San Bernardino Valley college and our first stop was to the fossil outcrop. I found an almost complete Bristolia bristolensis.... and I was hooked. Since then I've taken teachers and students there for 40 years or more.
—Guest Rick

Crinoids in black shale

It was on the beach at Long Point, Ontario looking for the ideal skipping stone. For a number of years these particular stones showed up in the gravelly bars; flat and pitch black, worn smooth in the sandy bottom of the lake...with pure white crinoid stems in cross section with a perfect black star in the center. Even my mother started collecting them. The things we remember from 50 years ago.
—Guest the_nthian

Misinformed 5th grade science teacher

While in the 5th grade, our science teacher would take us all out to examine whatever we were discussing in class. I noticed a stone that had imprints of small compound leaves in it. I said, "Wow look at this! I found a fossil!" He said, "That's not a fossil. I'll show you a fossil back in class." When we all got back to class, he showed me what he was claiming was a fossil. It was one of those scratch away children science toys that you would buy at a museum. I didn't argue with him, but I knew he was wrong and that I had the real thing. Unfortunately, I don't have it anymore.
—Guest Bill Spies

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