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I Found A Treasure In My Own Backyard

Updated on September 16, 2012
fragments of teeth, mostly deer type.
fragments of teeth, mostly deer type.
section of bone still embedded in clay, side one
section of bone still embedded in clay, side one
ball joint
ball joint
petrified wood or coral, i think coral
petrified wood or coral, i think coral
section of bone still embedded in clay side two
section of bone still embedded in clay side two
knuckle bone i think
knuckle bone i think

Fossil hunting in my own backyard

I am having troubles uploading pictures, so not all the pictures i wanted to share could be uploaded and shared here.

When we first got this 6 and 1/4 acres, we had no idea it would have treasure buried on it. We have since discovered quite a few fossils on it. The largest and heaviest is that of two turtle carapaces compressed together. It weighs a good ten pounds. The clay is actually terrible at preserving fossils...I mean it has preserved them, but not well. There are small fragments of turtle shells scattered all over the place, and when you find teeth, the enamel crumbles easily, so they can't be cleaned of the surrounding clay well. There is only about 6-8 feet of soils ( in some places only 1 foot, in others no soil, just hard clay) covering the clay bedrock. Backhoes even have difficulty breaking up that bedrock. Once clay becomes rock like it doesn't give up it's treasures readily.

In the pictures you can see only a small fraction of things we have found. We found a three inch canine or tusk, turtle rib bones, partial lower jaw bones with some teeth, of a carnivore and of course the many turtle shell fragments as well as odds and ends of bone fragments like you see above. There is another turtle shell i am waiting for the rain to expose a bit more so hopefully I can get it out with little damage.

It is actually kind of funny, that big double turtle shell I found and extracted was the first. And not knowing what it was, I thought it was the craziest looking skull I had ever seen, I simply could not imagine what it belonged to. I was flabbergasted when I finally started going under the shells...way to early if it was a skull. On a side Pierre, S.D. state capital, there is on display in the museum, one of, if not the largest turtle fossils ever found...and it was found here in the badlands not far from where I am.

One must be very careful in searching though, The slopes are covered in pebbly clay rocks, and these can roll out from under a person sending them crashing to the ground. That is how my mom broke her hip a couple of years ago. The ambulance crew had a tricky time getting her back to the ambulance because the little rocks kept rolling out from under their feet. And when you do find something you have to dig for, pray it isn't on a steep slope...that double turtle shell took me three days to extract...and while working on it i had to stand on two tie rods i had driven into the ground to keep from constantly sliding away from my site.

We are by no means professionals, though we know enough to handle the fossils, especially ones like the teeth with kids gloves. the tools we use range from a hammer and super large standard screwdriver, to squirt bottles, paintbrushes and electric toothbrushes. We also found that one of those electric files for callouses on feet worked wonderfully well.

We have no desire to sell anything we find. We keep all of it for our own pleasure. There is nothing new or of scientific value, so we don't worry about any museums needing it. We certainly haven't found any complete dinosaurs...and as exciting as that would be, aster what happened to the fellow who discovered the T-Rex here, I really don't want that kind of circus.

I will try to get a picture of the double turtle shells to upload and will add it to this if I succeed.

i just can't get it to upload. I don't know why I have such trouble uploading pictures. the carapace I have is about 11 inches long by 8 inches wide and weighs 13.4 pounds.

Yippee, I finally got them to upload!

top of double turtle carapace.
top of double turtle carapace.
bottom of double turtle carapace. mystery holes, weapons or teeth marks?
bottom of double turtle carapace. mystery holes, weapons or teeth marks?
part of turtle carapace buried in solid clay rock
part of turtle carapace buried in solid clay rock
part of turtle carapace buried in solid clay rock
part of turtle carapace buried in solid clay rock
piece of turtle shell in solid clay rock
piece of turtle shell in solid clay rock


Submit a Comment

  • tlmcgaa70 profile imageAUTHOR


    7 years ago from south dakota, usa

    thank you for coming by craftdrawer, i am glad you enjoyed this hub. fossil hunting is incredibly fun, and each time you find something, the more you want to find and learn more about what you are finding. have a great day.

  • craftdrawer profile image


    7 years ago

    How fun and so educational!!!

  • tlmcgaa70 profile imageAUTHOR


    7 years ago from south dakota, usa

    hi Dolores Monet...i know huh, it is a dream come true for doesn't get any better... have a great day!

  • Dolores Monet profile image

    Dolores Monet 

    7 years ago from East Coast, United States

    So cool to find such interesting stuff in your own back yard. Once, when we lived in an apartment in an old building, I found a small bottle burried in the yard. I still have it - it's a treasure though it's really worthless. But to find fossils? What fun!

  • tlmcgaa70 profile imageAUTHOR


    7 years ago from south dakota, usa

    Hi Chatkath, yes, it is a great deal of never knows just what they will find next. stop by again and you will see i was finally able to upload the 2 pictures of that double turtle shell. (one turtle shell compressed upon another). thank you for coming by to read about this. have a great day.

  • Chatkath profile image


    7 years ago from California

    How cool, I wish my backyard had this much history even if they might be bodies LOL!

    What fun! Love the images too!

  • tlmcgaa70 profile imageAUTHOR


    7 years ago from south dakota, usa

    lol...thank you for the thought, but this old lady is past becoming world famous at anything. besides, the last time a man found a complete T-Rex in his back yard it started a feeding frenzy of who really owned it and it was taken from him. I prefer to keep my collection private, even if it only has value to me to begin with. thank you so much for stopping by and reading my hub. have a great day!

  • PegCole17 profile image

    Peg Cole 

    7 years ago from Dallas, Texas

    Searching for buried treasure in your back yard, that is so cool. Lovely pictures of the things you've found so far. The turtle is amazing. Who knows? Maybe you'll become a world famous archaeologist.


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