Commonly found fossils

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‘If you find a bullet-shaped fossil you could well have found the remnants of an ancient squid. These fossils are called belemnites.’
-Peter Brash, animal ecologist

‘Ammonites can be found in Dorset and other places. These are spiral shaped and are from an animal that looked similar to nautilus.’
-Peter Brash, animal ecologist

‘Ammonites look a lot like coiled snail shells, but they were actually sea predators. They became extinct at the same time as the dinosaurs. You tend to find them in sedimentary rock, which is rock that has been laid down in layers underwater. Quarries and cliffs where this rock is being exposed can be good places to find them.’
- Rod Hebden

You can see two polished ammonites at Arlington Court, in Devon. In some rare cases these fossils are even found coated in fool’s gold.

Devil’s Toenails (Gryphaea)

Although these commonly found fossils do look like the claw of an ancient animal or, indeed, a devil, they were created from oysters that once lived on shallow sea beds.

Sea sponges and sea urchins

‘We get a lot of fossilised sea sponges and sea urchins along the South Downs. The sea urchins can be as small as a Brussel sprout or as big as a grapefruit.’
- Nick Walford, assistant ranger

Along the pathway near the wild garden at Bateman’s, Sussex, you can see fossilised sea urchins.

Shark’s teeth
‘A lot of people find fossilised shark’s teeth and some of these can be as large as your hand.’
-Peter Brash, animal ecologist


Places to go fossil hunting

Discover indoor and outdoor places where fossil-hunters can uncover ancient treasures.

Find a fossil near you

A beginner’s guide to fossil hunting

Top tips to help families and fully-grown fossil enthusiasts get started.

Fossil collecting guide

More about fossils

Find out more about fossil types on the National History Museum website.