Paleontology is an attractive hobby to many because amateurs are able to make significant finds, along with professional paleontologists. Usually amateurs start their fossil collecting when they discovered their first fossil. Most amateur paleontologists collect fossils for simple viewing pleasures. The remainder might seriously start collecting fossils to provide scientific information on the subject.
Who are amateurs?
Amateur Paleontologists are fossil collectors without a formal education on Paleontology. Amateurs range from the young to the old since anyone can discover a fossil.
Why are amateurs important to paleontology?
Amateurs are important to paleontology because they reveal new dig sites, and new species of dinosaurs and other creatures. Museums rely heavily on amateur's to donate their collections for further study. Usually on digs there will be a few formally educated paleontologists, with mostly volunteers helping to remove the fossilized remains.
What should amateurs do if they find a fossil?
The first step when discovering a fossil, is to properly document the location, along with rock types, positions, and photographs of the site. The second step is removing the fossil from its location in the rock. It is usually a good idea to remove a large chunk of rock containing the fossil, and bring it home to a well-lit space where it can be slowly and carefully removed from the rock. The third step is trying to identify the specimens using a library, reference books, etc... Then try to contact a professional paleontologist. Make sure the specimen is also properly stored by using a book to help.
Where can amateur paleontologists get help?
Amateurs can receive help by joining a local club or paleontological society. Amateurs can then get in contact with other fossil collectors in the region. They can help with how and where to find fossils in your local area and may provide useful contacts for the future. Also, check out local libraries and museums. Libraries usually have good information on the geological history of your region, and museums can help you get in contact with professional paleontologists.
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