Saturday, 25 January 2014

Day 4 of the Great Fossil Hunt

It's getting to become a habit this... Friday, head to the coast and look at stones.. To be honest, it's not the worst thing you can do on a Friday.

I had done some more research this week and felt a bit more comfortable in what I should be looking for, I'd also sourced out a new site to visit (15 minutes drive away so easily manageable) and with the low tide being right on lunch time it was a perfect time to get out for a good few hours and so, packing my tools, getting a grunt from the better half as I left the flat (she was busy) I got in the car and headed east for a bit.

Finding the beach was easy, pretty obvious, it looked promising and rocky as I made my way down the pier thingy and I had a decision to make.. To my left was more beach and rocks, to the right 'cliffs'.. So I did what anyone should probably not do and headed straight for the cliffs!

After wee bit of walking over countless stones and rocks I got to the cliffs and settled in a rough area to start looking. I was completely alone and had plenty of time to start breaking things apart. Looking over some of the rocks I worked out there was quite a bit of shale around which was handy as this is the best stuff to find fossil material in. Rock after rock felt the wrath of my hammer and chisel as I turned ancient stones into dust... OK, perhaps not, I'm no dwarf but I broke enough rocks to feel that I'd made a sizable dent in the worlds rock population.

I found a great bit of shale which clearly had plant markings through it, breaking it into layers showed more and more and I actually had to throw away some of it.. Wow, my fourth day and I'm throwing away fossils.. Though to be fair, it was pretty boring lines which indicated plant matter but not much else. After a while I stood up to survey the damage... Oops...

Yeah so a fair few rocks broken up, but plenty around and not near any walkers or dogs (seriously no-one would take a dog this way) so I didn't feel bad about the mess.. It'd be washed away in a couple of hours anyway. Just after I took this picture I noticed another rock with a rock inside it... Looking closer it was clearly.. something... so I broke the 'inner' rock out and was well chuffed.. a very clear fossil of what I have now found out is a calamite ( a bamboo like tree thingy.  My best find to date and really if I do say so, not bad looking for 330 million years old. It's about the thickness of a wrist and about two and a half inches long.. No bad!

After a while I finished up and took the 'best bits' back home with me to wash up and clean to see if there was anything great about them. Because the shale is dark it's not the easiest to see but you can see what I found below. Only one other thing I've been able to is a big leave from a cordaites (

So here's the other bits that came out OK. I may give it a break for a week or two before heading back out but I now know I've got a 'goto' spot for stuff, even if it is still just 'plant material' but just learning the rocks and being able to identify them is half the battle (the other half being lucky enough to open the rock at the right spot and for there to be anything in it to start with).

Yay old stuff!

Friday, 17 January 2014

Day 3 of the Great Fossil Hunt

So with the better half working from home today I decided to head down to the beach to give her (and me) some peace and quiet. It was just before lunch and I intended to just head for a walk for an hour or so. Handily the beach is only about a five minute drive for me.

So I packed up and headed down to the beach where the weather had cleared up again from earlier in the day. So far, that's three days and three cracking days of weather... well no rain anyway which is always a positive. The beach was clear of anyone nearby, just a couple of dog walkers in the distance and I didn't feel so much of a weirdo walking about looking at stones as I have done in the past...

I figure that the more I look, the more likely I am to spot something, it's just learning what I should be looking for more than anything else at this point. I know that the local area geology is Carboniferous sedimentary rocks (which from what I can gather is sandstone, shale and coal. Great.. I just need to work out if these billions of stones on the beach are what I'm looking for.

I walked my 'usual' route (usual in that it's twice I've done it now) towards and past the local castle we have here which is built on the coast. I really had no success and I thought I was doing worse than day two but in retrospect I think I just thought I was doing better than I truly was back then.

A decent walk and some fresh air and I decided to head back to the car, looking at various rocks and seeing if any look like they could have anything on them. On the way back I picked up a stone and thought "Meh, nothing" and dropped it. As it landed it split open and I figured I'd have a look... "Oh... Haaaang on a minute" and I looked closer... Quite a clear tube shape ran through the split and upon getting it home, cleaning it up a bit and posting it online to get some input it appears I've found my first true fossil!

This my dear friends looks like it could be part of a fairly common plant from the Carboniferous era - A lycopid ( ). No idea on age, but it's into the millions of years I guess due to it being in the stone. It's a couple of inches long and it's much clearer in person, you can see the texture of the branch/stem type thingy.

So all in all, well chuffed. I have potentially found my first fossil and while it's 'just a plant bit' it's more than I've ever had before.. Can't wait until next Friday now where I think I'll head out again.

Wednesday, 15 January 2014

The Great Fossil Hunt

So ever since I was a wee boy reading my first book about Dinosaurs I've been fascinated with the past. Those massive beasts stomping about being all cool blew my mind (and still does) and I always wanted to find one.. living (or much more likely) dead.

So it was a few months ago at work we talked about our bucket lists (the list of things to do before we die) and I put on it.. "Find a fossil" and being on holiday this week and just wanting to get out a bit more I decided that...

"I'm going on an adventure!"

Well an adventure might be a bit of an exaggeration but even so, something just clicked with me this week and I really wanted to go and find my own fossil (not of me mind, one I find myself).

Now first of all.. I'm incredibly aware that where I live (central coast of Scotland) I won't be finding a Stegosaurus anytime soon. I'm OK with that, in fact I'm happy to put my goal and aim at a Trilobite or something similar.. 250million years old.. Wow, that's pretty impressive to think an impression of something lasts that long.

So, I did a bit of research and discovered that Trilobites and the more curvy Ammonite are present in sedimentary rocks which are located in my local area (sorta). They are however not big nor easy to find. Again. I'm happy with that, I don't expect to find one on my first attempt.

What I didn't know when I set off on a trial run however was what exactly I should be looking for anyway. I'd read about people breaking open rocks to look for them so that's what I tried on my first run. Breaking rocks...

It wasn't successful. At all.

Broke open some rocks, looked at some bits and realised this would be a bigger task than I thought considering I have no idea what I'm doing.

Despite having a great day and enjoying some complete and utter peace of mind I returned empty handed but keen to find out more about what to do.

Some more research led me to deciding to forgo breaking open rocks and just looking for patterns and such on the 'outer shell' of rocks to see if anything was exposed. My thought was that I could look at the outside of three or four stones in the time it'd take to break open one at one part.

So off I headed again today down to the local beach, my Indiana Jones hat on (no whip nor ark of the covenant at my side) and this time I decided to try and document a bit more of what I find.

It wasn't the greatest of days but it was dry and again I enjoyed just the freedom and relaxing and found some shale which looks like it has patterns of some long dead plant matter.. No beasties found yet but I think if I keep looking and assuming I'm even looking at the right bloody stones I'll find something recognisable!