October 14 is National Fossil Day. To celebrate the occasion, we have marked some places in the U.S. where you can go to help you satisfy the fancy of your fossil-obsessed kids at home or perhaps a fossil junkie like yourself.
- Dinosaur National Monument, Utah
The Dinosaur National Monument is located across the Colorado Border in Utah's Unita Mountain. It is known for being one of the most well-known fossil hotspots in the US. It has a geological formation known as Morrison Formation, which yields several exceptionally well-preserved dinosaurs that feature stegosaurus, allosaurus, and the Apatosaurus.
The Morrison Formation, which is made up of limestone, mudstone, sandstone, and siltstone, is in Dinosaur National Monument in Colorado and Utah. However, the dinosaur fossils are in the Utah portion only. One can also explore the Fossil Discovery Trail, a 1.2-mile path that showcases layers of rocks, fossils, and preserved dinosaur bones.
Check out the dinosaurs embedded in the stones of Carnegie Quarry. In McKee Springs, find the petroglyphs made by the Fremont indigenous people over 1000 years ago, the ancestors of Ute and Shoshone people who are still living in the area now.
Should you be interested in overnight camping, the Dinosaur National Monument has six campgrounds. There are also tent areas in Vernal, Utah, to stay overnight in Steinaker State Park or Red Fleet State Park.
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- Agate Fossil Beds National Monument, Nebraska
This fossil site features mammals at Agate Fossil Beds. Mammals in this site date back 20 million years ago. Among those mammal fossils found here are the Morupus (a mammal that looks like a cross between a donkey and anteater), dinohyrus (a boar in the size of bison) Bear Dog.
The Forest Hills Trail features quarries important fossils discovered in the 1900s. Daemonelix Trail, on the other hand, showcases the homes of ancient palaeocastor, or dry land beavers. Make sure your tank is full, though, as the distance is quite far.
The Agate Fossil Beds National Monument has no camping site, but one may be able to camp at Toadstool Geologic Park, where one can learn more about fossils.
- Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument, Colorado
Cenozoic Era is also known as the "age of mammals." The place is an excellent place to look for Cenozoic fossils as the area is reputed to be the wealthiest and most diverse fossil beds in the entire world. The fossil beds house more than 1,700 species over 160 years, including the remains of brontothere, a rhino-like animal. The first fossilized butterfly in North America is also found there.
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- Big Brook Preserve, New Jersey
If you are fascinated about sharks, Big Brook Preserve is a perfect place to find Cretaceous-era fossilized shark teeth as the ocean submerged the area in the said era. The site is also where scientists found bones and teeth belonging to mosasaurs, the 50 ft long aquatic reptiles, plesiosaurs, and giant crocodiles.
An exciting thing to do in this place is they allow you to pick fossils through the creek beds. However, you can only keep five fossils a day, and you are not allowed to dig the fossil bed. The sifting screen should also be only 18 inches wide.
- Badlands National Park, South Dakota
The Park features dramatic rock formation that showcased ancient animals. Oreodont ( across between capybara and donkey), Namvarid (the false saber-toothed cats), and the brontothere (ancient rhinoceros) were believed to have walked these areas millions of years ago from its fossil remains.
The Park also has a functional paleontology lab that one can visit. The region is known as the best place for fossils in the country.
One can hike through vast geological, scenic spots and can have night sky viewing pleasures. There are also camping areas to spend the night.
- Montour Preserve, Pennsylvania
The Montour Preserve Fossil Pit features a massive concentration of fossilized brachiopods, gastropods, trilobites, and other fossils. Visitors may gather their fossils but are advised to bring their tools: a small hammer, google, and a brush. It is best to start finding fossils in the morning before the rock heats up.
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