Fossils are the remains of animals that have died millions of years ago. Conditions need to be just right for a fossil to form (you can see why in the flow chart below). Most fossils consist of things like: shells, leaves, bone, teeth e.t.c. Fossils are most commonly found in Sedimentary Rock. Sedementary Rock is formed by sediment layers building up on the bottom of a river or ocean. This is why most fossils found are of sea creatures. Dinosaurs however could fall into the river, drown, and then become fossilized the same way. The steps involved in fossilization is shown below.
As a fossil lover, i myself like to go out into the field and search for my own fossils. However...im in Australia, and there are very few good or well known sites to search. So, all the fossils i find are considered "basic" because im searching random cliff faces and normally finding virtually nothing. I travelled 40 mins from Wollongong to search the cliff faces at Stanwell Park beach. 1 word of advice...dont go to Stanwell Park beach in search of fossils...THERE IS ABSOLUTELY NOTHING!!!!! I was so frustrated!
Anyway, i managed to find a better location to search for fossils...Wollongong lighthouse. Surrounding Wollongong's lighthouse are exposed cliff faces that are much richer in fossils than Stanwell Park beach. After a couple of hours searching i managed to find numerous Brachiopods (A type of shell), and a few interesting markings of something...plants maybe. I also found a nice quality shell fossil embedded in the cliff face...i forgot to take my chisel and had to leave without it...Grrr. I moved further round the left side of the cliff face and found a rocky area that looked like a good spot. I got down on my hands and knees and began inspecting the rocks, which would have looked wierd to any passers by. It paid off though as i found a large gastropod embedded in rock. The Gastropod was the find of the day, so far. I then found another, smaller Gastropod embedded in rock. It was fairly loose and i broke it free of the rock it was in and held it in my hand thinkin "you beauty". Not sure what was the find of the day anymore...This was my first search at the lighthouse, but not my last.
And so...weeks later i was back to the lighthouse for MORE. Firstly, i got that shell out of the cliff face that i couldnt get last time as i forgot my chisel. After that, i began scouring over the rock platform that stuck out of the cliff for shells. Sure enough, i found numerous brachiopods in the ground beneath my feet. I didnt chisel them out as i thought it was sorta vandalism, this ground was public... So i left them and continued looking for specimens in loose rocks that i could take home. I went back to were i found the 2 Gastropods last time and began to search again. I found HEAPS of Brachiopods and other types of shell. I also found a rock with 4 different Bi-valves in it. I found an imprint that i could have sworn was a moth imprint...it seriously looked like a moth imprint but i think it was actually a compressed shell or something. At that point, i decided to call it a day.
I then visited the lighthouse a third time with a friend. We went on scouring the same rocks and found the usual...Brachiopods, lots of them. He found a HUGE Brachiopod and i was like "whoah!". It was bigger than our hands! One to him... I was ashamed i didnt find something like that but oh well...I managed to find a Clam-like shell (it had the wavy mouth like most large clams do) and it was fairly good quality. One to me! I began pulling rocks straight out of the ground and wiped the dirt of of them to have a careful look at them. I wrenched this large rock out of the ground and it was filled with Bi-valves! (or brachiopods, hard to tell). Another one to me! However my friend had just discovered another large Brachiopod that looked pretty cool. Another to him...Oh well, were not havin a competition or somethin. After that we left and headed home. Im sure i will return to the lighthouse soon to look for more fossils and when i do i will write about it on this page. To see pictures of most of the fossils i discovered at Wollongong Lighthouse, go to the photo gallery and click on the "My Fossil Hunts" gallery.
Heres a tip: Dont think you cant find fossils and its impossible to find a good spot cause its not. I once thought that...living in Australia and all, theres no good sites here but i managed to found an alright spot to look. You can too. Once you find a decent spot, be a good paleontologist and get down on your hands and knees and look carefully...dont be in a hurry and look at every rock!