One of the things that fossil collectors find most rewarding is actually going out into the field and discovering their own specimens. I’ve been collecting fossils in Arizona for more than 35 years, and some time ago I published a little ditty called “Field Guide To Arizona Fossils” to help out fossil hunters here in Arizona and fossil hunters who journey to Arizona to find some of the incredible things for which this southwestern state is famous. This guide was very popular and useful to many fossil collectors, but unfortunately the hardcopy version of this book is now out of print and even used copies are difficult to find. Don’t you just hate that?

Dilophosaurus footprint from Tuba City

More than ever I’m being asked about Arizona’s fossil record; what’s being found, what can be actually found, where and more questions than I can handle on interpreting all of this as students of paleontology. Many people have asked me to re-publish Field Guide to Arizona Fossils. So, an epiphany struck me: Put the whole thing on my website (T=tyrannosaurus, Rat=a play on my last name)
Thinking about fossil collecting in Arizona?
What's nice about a website format is that I have the ability to update this website regularly as discoveries are made and new insights into Arizona’s fossil record come to be, and to this end, I’ll be adding a lot to this section monthly as I do the research and meet with folks who are presently re-writing Arizona’s geological history. In reality, there is and will be so many changes and additions to my old book, which was the seed for that is a new, totally updated work. Fossil collecting sites are the core of this website and new, verified localities will be added continually in my Where To Look page.
t-rat's FIELD GUIDE to fossil collecting
Nearly everyone has at one time or another been exposed to the fossil remains of ancient plants and animals, whether obscurely, by scrubbing teeth clean with the tiny diatom fossils in a tube of toothpaste, or overwhelmingly, by standing in the shadow of a mighty dinosaur skeleton that towers above a museum's marble floor (which also may be fossiliferous). Today, with the exception of stamps, fossil and mineral collecting is America's most popular hobby. And with good reason: fossils are easily found and free for the picking. But more, they are the remnants of a profound happening - the evolution of life on earth. Fossil collectors become instant explorers and scientists, and they take with them into the field a sense of adventure and the anticipation of making new discoveries. The amateur frequently makes significant contributions to the science of paleontology in the course of thousands of mini-expeditions made each year.
In other words (getting down from my soap box), explore, learn and share. It took me 385 words to say this on the right !
Mesa Southwest Museum has lots of paleontology volunteer and educational opportunities
The amateurs, now in a PC way termed "avocationalists, " provide minds and sweat for this fascinating science, the cost of which, if such services were for hire, would be incalculable, and far beyond the budgets of all American museums combined. Frequently, professional paleontologists loose sight of this valuable asset, citing the few amateurs who forget their obligations to this science: those who become vandals rather than collectors, or those who are seeking souvenirs rather than specimens. We ask the professionals to be tolerant and to provide continual education for the amateur paleontologist, and not to push for unbending laws which serve only to limit or completely remove the amateurs' right to participate in this science. The great majority of fossil collectors are grateful for the opportunity to work side by side with the college professor or museum curator, and the overwhelming good done by the non-professional far outweighs the harm done by so few. This Field Guide is not intended to be a comprehensive volume, but rather it is an introduction and a guide. Specific fossil collecting localities are listed, and I've added considerably more in the website since the information was first published in book form. However, it is up to the individual amateur paleontologist to seek out new areas for exploration in the field, in his or her imagination or in outside opportunities that can further the understanding of this science. I encourage all of these pursuits, and maybe I can help you further through individual contact. Contributions of additional or new sites are always welcome and will be confirmed and posted as soon a possible. Email site information to

A.A.P.S Join! It's an important resource for any fossil hunter.

AAPS (The Association of Applied Paleontological Sciences), is an incredible conglomorate of dedicated fossil hunters, including suppliers, preofssional paleontologists and peopole who simply love fossils and the science of paleontology. Formerly the "American Association of Paleontological Suppliers" AAPS was organized to create a professional association of commercial fossil and mineral collectors and preparators for the purpose of promoting ethical collecting practices and cooperative liaisons with researchers, instructors, curators and exhibit managers in the academic and museum paleontological community. The American Lands Access Association was established by the American Federation of Mineralogical Societies for the purpose of promoting and ensuring the right of the amateur hobby collector, recreational prospector and miner to the use of public and private lands for collecting rocks, minerals and fossils for educational and recreational purposes. These Associations have chosen to cooperate in the effort to introduce and enact legislation that will establish a statutory right of access for amateur and commercial fossil and mineral collecting on federal public lands. To contact AAPS, write AAPS 446 River Heights Blvd, River Heights, UT 84321 - call (435) 752-7145, or visit AAPS on the web.
George Winters (R) of A.A.P.S and Bill Mason, inventor of PaleoBond and long time A.A.P.S member.

To the amateur and the student, those for whom this webpage was developed, it is all important to gain the confidence of the professional paleontologists. Share with them your discoveries, and allow them to add your new specimens to the overall story of plant and animal fossil history.

Most important, children and young adults should be introduced to paleontology and the earth sciences. They should be taught from the beginning that, although these are exacting studies, they can be the source of much enjoyment and recreation. It can become a hobby which one does not outgrow, and an activity which can bring a family together at a time when so much in today's society has failed to do so.

FIND YOUR OWN HOLE! When you find a good fossil everyone wants to get into the act.

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