Learning More About Dinosaurs

How to Find Dinosaur Bones

How are dinosaur fossils distinguishable from other fossils?

There are a number of ways to find out if your fossil is from a dinosaur. If you have the desire, there are numerous fossil guides and books to help you determine the identity of your fossil. In this approach, you will have to acquire some knowledge of taxonomy (the classification of plants and animals), as well as a general knowledge of biology and geology. This is a good way to learn for yourself, but it can be time-consuming and overwhelming for the beginner.

Another way is to have a more experienced fossil collector help with the identification process. Try a local fossil collecting club (and you may want to join, too). Also, a local university or nearby natural history museum usually has someone who will help identify the fossil for you, although sometimes a fee may be charged for this service. If they can’t identify the fossil, they may be able to suggest someone who can help.

If your fossil does not correspond to anything known, it might be a new dinosaur species. In this case, your finding is very important to scientific knowledge, and you may be asked to donate the specimen to the museum or university for their collection—not only for the collection but for additional scientific study. Your name might even be used as the basis for the scientific name of the new species. Also, you might be asked to assist with further excavation at the dig site.


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