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All About Fossils for Kids of All Ages

Updated on December 12, 2017
Ben Reed profile image

I have had a life-long interest in dinosaurs and fossils and it seems that my eldest granddaughter has acquired the same interest.

Fossils For Kids

Welcome to my Hubpage on Fossils for Kids of all Ages. As a youngster I remember the excitement and intrigue at turning over rocks on the beach to reveal fossils. I found it a fun way to learn about about fossils.

Fossils are the remains of prehistoric life. They can also be other forms of evidence that such life existed. In order to become fossilised three basic conditions must be satisfied. Firstly, an animal or a plant would normally have to have hard parts such as shell or wood or bone. Secondly, this must then be buried quickly to prevent decay and thirdly, this must remain undisturbed throughout the whole process of fossilisation.

Some remains are preserved through a different process and in these rare cases, the animals have been preserved through freezing. An example of this are the discoveries of Mammoths as seen in Alaska and Siberia. These examples have been refrigerated in the freezing ground for the past 25,000 years.

A further example of animals being preserved comes from semi-arid regions. In South America, mummified Ground Sloths have been found in caves, preserved by the unusual mixed conditions of cold, dryness and chemical action.

I hope that you and your children find this Hubpage an interesting, educational and fun way to add to both yours and your child's learning on fossils.


Fossils
Fossils

Fossils - Life from the Past

It is rare to find fossils that are complete. For example, we might find an animal where only the skull or a few bones remain. Or we might find a fossil of a leaf. So how is it that we can then translate this partial fossil remain into an image of what the whole animal or tree might have looked like.

Geologists do this by understanding what animals and plants are like today. They use their knowledge of today's animal and plant life to interpret the remains. An example might be Ammonites, these have been extinct for some 70 million years, however there shells are similar to living Pearly Nautilus. The geologist assumes that the soft parts were also similar and reconstruct them to match.

Nautilus

Nautilus - an amazing creature
Nautilus - an amazing creature
Amonite Fossils
Amonite Fossils

Types of Fossils

So what types are fossils are there?

There are many types fossils and they are not always remains of bones or shells.

Below are a few of the most common types of fossils.

Mold Fossils are hollow impressions in rocks that have been left in rocks.

Cast Fossils are mineral deposit filled molds that leave a copy of the creature or plant behind.

Imprint Fossils are from things such as footprints of creatures or even drag marks.

Whole Fossils happen when plants or animals are encased in ice or sap - an example of this would be an insect trapped in amber.

The most common form of fossils are the remains of shells or bones that have been transformed into stone. These can often show most if not all of the original detail of the shell or bone in minute detail. This is due to all the pores and tiny spaces in their structure being filled with minerals compounds like calcite which is calcium carbonate, which is dissolved in water. As the water passed through the shell or bone minerals were deposited in the spaces within the shell or bone structure.

How Fossils are Formed - A great explanation of fossils for kids - from YouTube

Plaster of Paris fossil making
Plaster of Paris fossil making

A fun activity for kids to make their own fossils.

You can create your own "fossils" by following the instructions below. You can use anything small to form the fossil imprint. Examples might be leaves or shells.

You will need the items below:

Modelling clay. Waxed paper. Plaster of Paris. Some vegetable oil. A container in which to mix the plaster of Paris.

For each item that you would need to fossilise you should do the following:

Step 1. place a ball of clay on a piece of waxed paper and flatten it into a thick circle.

Step 2. make an impression in the clay. You do this by gently pressing in the object and then carefully remove it.

Step 3. apply a little vegetable oil to the surface of the impression you have made (this makes it non-stick).

Step 4. Follow the directions on the Plaster of Paris package so that it has the right consistency, then spoon the plaster of Paris into the impressions.

Step 5. Leave the plaster to dry, which usually takes around 45 to 60 minutes, then peel away the clay. Your fossil will be revealed.

Types of Rocks

These rock types are those were fossils are most commonly found

Sedimentary Rocks the majority of fossils are found in sedimentary rocks. As the name suggests, these rocks are formed of sediments from clay, sand or mud.

Limestone fossil finds are also seen in this type of rock. Made mainly from calcium carbonate, limestone is common in warm shallow seas.

Shale another type of rock that preserves fossils. Made up of fine grains from clays and silt.

Collecting Fossils

People collect fossils for all sorts of reasons. For fun or for the excitement of that rare find. Sometimes it is just for the fact that it gets you outside and in the company of other like minded people.

So where should you look for fossils? The simple answer is to look in sedimentary rocks. Rocks that have been freshly exposed are the best source. Along the beach, river bank and headland can be good sources. A word of warning though - always get permission from the land-owner and always watch out for loose rocks. Remember - safety first!

Take time to survey the area, looking for those rock surfaces have weathered, possibly exposing fossils. You should turn over rock fragments looking on both sides.

In the event that you discover bones such as vertebrae, you should leave the find intact and seek professional help. You wouldn't want to ruin what might be a significant and important find.

Fossil Hunting - From Discovery Channel - A youtube video

Modern Day Fossil Hunters
Modern Day Fossil Hunters

The Great Fossil Hunters

It was during the 1800's that scientists learned a great deal about the study of rocks (geology), and about the history of life (palaeontology).

The first important fossil finds were made by William Buckland, a professor of Geology at Oxford University, England in the 1820's. He named these finds "Megalosaurus" which means giant lizard.

In 1825, Mary Ann Mantell found a large fossil tooth - this was later found to be from an Iguanodon.

It was from early fossil hunters such as these that a whole new world of dinosaurs first emerged.

Tools for Fossil Hunting

  • A geologist's hammer
  • A shoulder bag
  • A small cold chisel
  • A first aid kit
  • A map
  • Your own food and water
  • Something to wrap your finds in - newspaper can be good.

Storing and Displaying Fossils

Fossils can be stored in cardboard trays. Labels can be written up and placed beneath the fossil. Alternatively, a bank of shallow drawers can be used. Another alternative is to use plastic or glass jewelry cases.

You should first clean your fossils by brushing away the dirt - an artists brush would do the job nicely. You should also wash away any salt from the sea - soak then in cold water for a few minutes and then let them dry in the air.

I hope that you have enjoyed this HUBPAGE. - Please take a moment to leave feedback. It always good to know what you thought about it.

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    • profile image

      reasonablerobby 4 years ago

      I've been fossil hunting around Charmouth and Lyme Regis in the UK - great fun

    • Ben Reed profile image
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      Ben Reed 4 years ago from Redcar

      @WriterJanis2: Thank you.

    • WriterJanis2 profile image

      WriterJanis2 4 years ago

      I find fossils to be so fascinating. I really like the images you have here.

    • Ben Reed profile image
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      Ben Reed 4 years ago from Redcar

      @TanoCalvenoa: Thank you.

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      TanoCalvenoa 4 years ago

      This is a great lens. I've found marine organism fossils a few times in the local hills here in Southern California, which used to be the bottom of a shallow sea during the Jurassic Period. Lots of fun.

    • Ben Reed profile image
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      Ben Reed 4 years ago from Redcar

      @shoppingdaddy: Thank you.

    • shoppingdaddy profile image

      shoppingdaddy 4 years ago

      WOW! This is a great lens! We went digging for fossils in Delta/Utah. Buckets full of Trilobites ;)

    • Ben Reed profile image
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      Ben Reed 4 years ago from Redcar

      @Judy Filarecki: Thank you for your visit and comments - very much appreciated.

    • Judy Filarecki profile image

      Judy Filarecki 4 years ago from SW Arizona and Northern New York

      Finding fossils were always an exciting event both for my self, my son and now my grandchildren. thanks for sharing.

    • Ben Reed profile image
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      Ben Reed 4 years ago from Redcar

      @amosvee: That's great.

    • amosvee profile image

      amosvee 4 years ago

      My little fossil hunter is now on her way to becoming a paleontologist.

    • rattie lm profile image

      rattie lm 4 years ago

      Terrific lens. All children enjoy fossil hunting I think.

    • happy-birthday profile image

      Birthday Wishes 4 years ago from Here

      Yes, I have enjoyed your lens! Thanks a lot for sharing this great lens!!!

    • Ben Reed profile image
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      Ben Reed 4 years ago from Redcar

      @mina009: Thank you.

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      mina009 4 years ago

      Very very interesting lens about fossils.

    • Ben Reed profile image
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      Ben Reed 4 years ago from Redcar

      @TommysPal: Thank you - appreciated.

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      TommysPal 4 years ago

      I found what I think is a molar of a big animal while digging in my yard. My property use to be part of a mining industry I think. I'm guessing the tooth is from a mule or something of that size. It was exciting to find this. Great lens!

    • Ben Reed profile image
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      Ben Reed 4 years ago from Redcar

      @lesliesinclair: It would be amazing to be able to make a direct comparison with the living creature.

    • lesliesinclair profile image

      lesliesinclair 4 years ago

      Aren't fossils intriguing! It's fun to imagine how they looked when they were fleshed out.

    • Ben Reed profile image
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      Ben Reed 4 years ago from Redcar

      @Raymond Eagar: Amazing,..

    • Raymond Eagar profile image

      Raymond Eagar 4 years ago

      I have a piece of fossilised tree , I took this from a place on a farm in Zimbabwe where big stone tree trunks lie all fossilised .

    • Ben Reed profile image
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      Ben Reed 4 years ago from Redcar

      @RoSelou: Thank you - very much appreciated.

    • profile image

      RoSelou 4 years ago

      Until now, I still collect stones with fossils embedded on it. It is mostly shells, no dinosaurs or even ammonite. I hope to find an ammonite, just like the first photo above. This is a helpful lens. Thanks!

    • profile image

      RoSelou 4 years ago

      Until now, I still collect stones with fossils embedded on it. It is mostly shells, no dinosaurs or even ammonite. I hope to find an ammonite, just like the first photo above. This is a helpful lens. Thanks!

    • Ben Reed profile image
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      Ben Reed 4 years ago from Redcar

      @ChristyZ: Thank you.

    • marktplaatsshop profile image

      marktplaatsshop 4 years ago

      A great lens on fossils, my son found one years ago and we still have it, thanks for visiting and liking my lens on the samsung chromebook, it is appreciated

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      ChristyZ 4 years ago

      When my son was little he had a keen interest in fossils, great lens!

    • Ben Reed profile image
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      Ben Reed 4 years ago from Redcar

      @marktplaatsshop: I am pleased that you enjoyed your visit.

    • Ben Reed profile image
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      Ben Reed 4 years ago from Redcar

      @takkhisa: It is such fun too.

    • takkhisa profile image

      Takkhis 4 years ago

      Great lens on fossils! Exploring fossils is really adventurous! :)

    • Ben Reed profile image
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      Ben Reed 4 years ago from Redcar

      @norma-holt: Thanks you - I have amended.

    • norma-holt profile image

      norma-holt 4 years ago

      Hi, You have an error on your second lot of questions. Invertebrate fossils come from animals without back bones. Otherwise enjoyed the lens.

    • Ben Reed profile image
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      Ben Reed 4 years ago from Redcar

      @delia-delia: Thanks for the visit and comments - always appreciated.

    • delia-delia profile image

      Delia 4 years ago

      I have found some fossils unintentionally...they caught my eye and to my pleasant surprise there was a fossil in it. My youngest daughter loves Geology and took it in Collage, but sidetracked to restate building...so still has to survey land.....Thanks for sharing!

    • Ben Reed profile image
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      Ben Reed 4 years ago from Redcar

      @anonymous: A love of fossils is a timeless thing.

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      anonymous 4 years ago

      Hey. Grandma here is no kid, but I still love fossils. Have a couple on my desk right now plus some amber with a bee in it. Great fun.

    • Ben Reed profile image
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      Ben Reed 4 years ago from Redcar

      @John Dyhouse: I have hunted for fossils at Robin Hoods Bay too as a child - great fun.

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      John Dyhouse 4 years ago from UK

      I remember the happy days spent with my kids when they were young collecting fossils on holidays, one of the best places we visited was Robin Hoods Bay, UK. I still have the ammonite we found, but most were really fragments or shells. THanks for the memories

    • Ben Reed profile image
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      Ben Reed 4 years ago from Redcar

      @anonymous: Thank you.

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      anonymous 4 years ago

      I think one of your commentator's summed it up best, a tangible link with the distant past. It is amazing to think about. Again, a really great lense, thanks for posting it.

    • Ben Reed profile image
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      Ben Reed 4 years ago from Redcar

      @TolovajWordsmith: I think its because a fossil is a tangible link with something from the distant past. I know that as a child, I was intrigued that I could actually hold something. It made it all the more real for me.

    • TolovajWordsmith profile image

      Tolovaj Publishing House 4 years ago from Ljubljana

      I am always surprised when I see how fascinated are kids with fossils.

    • lollyj lm profile image

      Laurel Johnson 4 years ago from Washington KS

      Fascinating lens on one of my favorite topics. Well done.

    • Ben Reed profile image
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      Ben Reed 4 years ago from Redcar

      @worldflashpacker: Thank you so much.

    • worldflashpacker profile image

      worldflashpacker 4 years ago

      I adore fossils but always considered them to be out of my reach. This lens has taught me I can appreciate this natural phenomena at an affordable price. Excellent, informative and downright interesting. Well done, thanks for sharing and keep it up.

    • worldflashpacker profile image

      worldflashpacker 4 years ago

      I adore fossils but always considered them to be out of my reach. This lens has taught me I can appreciate this natural phenomena at an affordable price. Excellent, informative and downright interesting. Well done, thanks for sharing and keep it up.

    • Ben Reed profile image
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      Ben Reed 4 years ago from Redcar

      @Bartukas: Thank you - I appreciate you comments.

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      Bartukas 4 years ago

      This lens is so imformative,thanks for sharing!

    • Ben Reed profile image
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      Ben Reed 4 years ago from Redcar

      @lionmom100: Thank you. Its those chance fossil finds that mean so much.

    • profile image

      lionmom100 4 years ago

      Beautiful fossils. I found a small trilobite one once by a stream.

    • Ben Reed profile image
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      Ben Reed 4 years ago from Redcar

      @Dressage Husband: Thank you - very much appreciated.

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      Stephen J Parkin 4 years ago from Pine Grove, Nova Scotia, Canada

      Great lens and beautiful pictures of fossils. I really loved hours of searching just to find one sample and none of them were ever of the class of these. Blesssed

    • Ben Reed profile image
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      Ben Reed 4 years ago from Redcar

      @InfoCoop: Thank you.

    • InfoCoop profile image

      InfoCoop 4 years ago

      Very appropriately titled. Your lens sparked some of the enthusiasm I had as a kid. Thanks!

    • Ben Reed profile image
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      Ben Reed 4 years ago from Redcar

      @Elastara: Thank you for your visit and comments - always appreciated.

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      Elastara 4 years ago

      Great lens on fossils for kids of all ages!

      This reminded me of my favorite subject Geography when I was in school!

    • Teapixie LM profile image

      Tea Pixie 4 years ago

      Very, super fun! We live for discovering fossils in their natural locales. It makes for great excuses to travel. :)

    • Ben Reed profile image
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      Ben Reed 4 years ago from Redcar

      @EmmaCooper LM: Thank you - always appreciated.

    • EmmaCooper LM profile image

      EmmaCooper LM 4 years ago

      Cool lens! Blessed by a SquidAngel

    • Ben Reed profile image
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      Ben Reed 4 years ago from Redcar

      @Diva2Mom: Thanks for the blessing. One of the great things about having children is that you get the opportunity to revisit subjects again through their eyes.

    • Ben Reed profile image
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      Ben Reed 4 years ago from Redcar

      @weakbond: Fossils can be such a fascinating subject.

    • Diva2Mom profile image

      Diva2Mom 4 years ago

      What a fabulous fossil lens for kids, my children will really enjoy this! Fabulously BLESSED by a little Squid Angel. God bless you and Huge Hug!

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      Nnadi bonaventure Chima 4 years ago from Johanesburg

      I am always fascinated by fossils , thanks for this informative lens

    • Jogalog profile image

      Jogalog 4 years ago

      I was absolutely fascinated by fossils when I was a kid. I hope I can enjoy them again in a few years now I have a little daughter.

    • Ben Reed profile image
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      Ben Reed 4 years ago from Redcar

      @Sky Breeze: Its amazing to think about how much we can learn from fossils.

    • Sky Breeze profile image

      May Matthew 4 years ago

      I have never collected fossils before but find it very interesting!

    • Ben Reed profile image
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      Ben Reed 4 years ago from Redcar

      @JeffGilbert: Sound like you lived near a young fossil hunters dream location. Thanks for the visit and comment.

    • JeffGilbert profile image

      JeffGilbert 4 years ago

      Ah, this reminds me of my days as a boy. I collected minerals and rocks and fossils. I lived in New Jersey near a quarry that allowed to break open a lot of rocks looking for fossils. and sometimes I would actually find one. This is a great lens, thanks for making it. :)

    • Ben Reed profile image
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      Ben Reed 4 years ago from Redcar

      @ManipledMutineer: Thank you - always appreciated.

    • ManipledMutineer profile image

      ManipledMutineer 4 years ago

      Another excellent lens, which takes me back to my collecting days!

    • Ben Reed profile image
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      Ben Reed 4 years ago from Redcar

      @karen-stephens: Thank you for the visit and blessing - always appreciated. The Kid is us all, never leaves - thank goodness!

    • karen-stephens profile image

      karen-stephens 4 years ago

      Thanks for the great lens.. do I qualify as a kid too?

    • Ben Reed profile image
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      Ben Reed 4 years ago from Redcar

      @LaughingLady LM: Thank you for your visit.

    • LaughingLady LM profile image

      Helen Phillips Cockrell 4 years ago from Virginia

      Nice lens. Thanks!

    • Ben Reed profile image
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      Ben Reed 4 years ago from Redcar

      @anonymous: Thanks for visiting my lense - appreciated.

    • Ben Reed profile image
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      Ben Reed 4 years ago from Redcar

      @tomzi123 lm: Thank you.

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      anonymous 4 years ago

      I love this stuff

    • tomzi123 lm profile image

      tomzi123 lm 4 years ago

      Great lens.

    • Ben Reed profile image
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      Ben Reed 4 years ago from Redcar

      @AstroGremlin: Thank you for the visit, I'm sure that there are many more new fossils yet to be discovered.

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      AstroGremlin 4 years ago

      I'm imagining all the fossils that have yet to be found. Great article.

    • Ben Reed profile image
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      Ben Reed 4 years ago from Redcar

      @MarcellaCarlton: Thank you.

    • Ben Reed profile image
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      Ben Reed 4 years ago from Redcar

      @rawwwwwws lm: Thank you, Its always good to know when the lense has been enjoyed,

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      MarcellaCarlton 4 years ago

      Stunning lens for kids. Very well done!

    • rawwwwwws lm profile image

      rawwwwwws lm 4 years ago

      Thanks for sharing, enjoyed my time passing by your lens!

    • Ben Reed profile image
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      Ben Reed 4 years ago from Redcar

      @anonymous: Thank you so much.

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      anonymous 4 years ago

      What a great lens, squidliked, G+1 and pinned

    • Ben Reed profile image
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      Ben Reed 4 years ago from Redcar

      @MadameJoy: Thank you. Raising an interest in fossils at an early age, provides a fascination that can last a lifetime.

    • profile image

      MadameJoy 4 years ago

      Those fossil kits look great - my kids would be really into that. Maybe for the next birthday or holiday!

    • Ben Reed profile image
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      Ben Reed 4 years ago from Redcar

      @tfsherman lm: Thank you. It is very much appreciated.

    • tfsherman lm profile image

      tfsherman lm 4 years ago

      What a great resource! I've pinned you to my Summer Reading Program 2103 board. The national theme this year is Dig It, and this lens is very timely. Thanks!

    • Ben Reed profile image
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      Ben Reed 4 years ago from Redcar

      @flinnie lm: Thank you so much for the visit and blessing - always appreciated.

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      Gloria Freeman 4 years ago from Alabama USA

      I enjoyed reading this lens about fossils. Blessed and added to my lens Squid Angel flinnie.

    • Ben Reed profile image
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      Ben Reed 4 years ago from Redcar

      @DesignSpace: One of my favourite fossils as a child was a fossil shark tooth - I was in awe of it.

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      DesignSpace 4 years ago

      I used to collect fossils as a kid. Still have a fossilized cast of an ancient fish sat on my bookshelf, and a necklace with a fruit fly trapped in amber. They make such great and educational gifts for kids!

    • Ben Reed profile image
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      Ben Reed 4 years ago from Redcar

      @Gayle Dowell: Thank you for you visit. Fossils are such fascinating insights into our past.

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      Gayle Dowell 4 years ago from Kansas

      I've been a rock hound all my life. I loved coming across fossils of all kinds. Great lens!

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      Avi Wolfson 5 years ago from Massachusetts

      Great lens!

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      anonymous 5 years ago

      this is not giving me education!

    • Ben Reed profile image
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      Ben Reed 5 years ago from Redcar

      @savateuse: Thanks for the blessing - always appreciated.