First, make sure you have a myFOSSIL account, this is required to upload your fossil information. If you are interested in seeing if your fossil can be used for research purposes, please follow through the following steps. They walk you through the information needed and why it is helpful for other scientists to use it for research questions. Even if the information you have on your fossil is not enough to be used for research purposes it will still benefit the community through educational means and help others identify their fossils.Specimens that have sufficient information will be uploaded to iDigBio and GBIF (Global Biodiversity Information Facility) for public accessibility.
If you have already gone through the stepwise process that explains each piece of data please click through to a summary tab where you can enter in your specimen data on a single page.
Data Quality Information Page
How do I know my fossil identification is correct?
If you are concerned, it is a good idea to post an image in the forum “What is it? And more experienced collectors and professionals can examine the specimen and help you with your identification. You can also look through some online resources. For invertebrate fossils the Digital Atlas of Ancient Life has several projects from different time periods across the continental United States with pictures to help guide you through finding fossil species.
If you are still having trouble with identification, send a direct message to someone who is listed as an expert on the Fossil Specialties + Contacts topic. Here are instructions on how to send a message. You could also tag the expert in a comment on your image to request help.
Why do we need to include phylum, class, order, family, if the species is the important part?
The Linnaean classification system is used to aid in communication about different groups of life on Earth. There are several organizations such as the International Commission on Zoological Nomenclature that provide guidelines for the usage or complications with the naming of animals. Similarly, there is a different organization that has guidelines and rules for the naming of plant life.
What if I don’t remember where I found my fossil?
Leave the locations fields blank if you don’t remember the place you found the fossil. It likely will mean that the fossil won’t be included in the research material, but it will still be of interest to others within the FOSSIL community.
How do I go figuring out the age and name of the rock I was collecting in?
A starting place would be to ask the group or organization that you went collecting with for information on the outcrop you visited. There are also several apps for your mobile phone or other devices that can help you better estimate where you are in geologic time. Mancos costs $2.99 through the Apple Store and provides you with data on your location including geologic age, the rock formation, description of the rock, what units are above and below, and what sort of fossils you should expect to find in the rock. Rockd is free and available in the Apple Store and on Google Play. Similarly, Rockd tells you where are with latitude and longitude data, elevation, what age, what the rock type is, what rock unit you are on, and the functionality continues. You are able to check in at outcrops, use a compass, examine ancient continent arrangements, and learn about different rock forming minerals within the app.
Post in the Ideas for New Forums forum and suggest a new forum for geologic time and/or stratigraphy to get a community discussion going and get input from experts.
How do I get latitude and longitude data?
There are many ways to get latitude and longitude data while you are at an outcrop or at home.
On Apple devices, you can go to the Compass app (comes pre-downloaded on your device) and it has your latitude/longitude and elevation information
On both Apple and Android devices you can download the Rockd app, which loads with your location information, elevation, and more about the geology of where you are.
If your service is bad in while you are out in the field, you can search on Google Maps for your location and drop a pin to get latitude and longitude of the location of your outcrop.
What is the difference between a group, formation, and member?
Similar to Linnaean classification, there is a hierarchical structure to rocks. A member is a distinct part of a formation. A formation can be made up of many members. Formations form the primary basis of subdivisions of a sequence and can vary in thickness (centimeters to kilometers). A group is several formations that share similar features or characteristics in the rocks they bear.
Click here for more information from the British Geological Survey.
What tags are useful for my specimen?
General terms that you would use to describe your fossil to your friends and family members would be great tags. Consider them key features or descriptors that others may see in similar fossils. This could include basic terms like ‘shell’ or ‘smooth’ so when someone searches ‘smooth’ they find an image of your fossil can can help narrow down their search.
I’m concerned my specimen is not research grade material, does that matter?
Absolutely not! Not all specimens are research grade material, even those that professionals go out for weeks at a time to search for. Sometimes the fossil is too crushed or too common, so the occurrence has less impact - scientifically speaking. But these fossils are good for educational purposes. Crushed fossils help us learn about processes that affect fossils after they are buried, and abundant fossils help us think about community structure and ecosystem dynamics and would be very useful for educational purposes.