Seashells are probably one of the most abundant fossils there are. Because the sea is the location that most fossils come from, when you can identify an area where there are a lot of shell fossils, the process of find them makes a great afternoon activity that is fun and educational for the whole family. And it may or may not surprise you that you don’t have to live right next to the ocean to find places you can set up your own archeological dig for fossils shells.
We know that the earth has been changing and shifting for millions of years. So no matter what are of the country you live in, you can probably find a “sea bed” that is still undisturbed left over from when our world was part of the sea. But the shifting of the “plates” of continents and the rising of the seabed to become dry land because of volcanic activity, earthquakes and other forces of nature produced the dry land we now call home. Even if you live far from any of the coastlines of the country, you are still living on land that at one time was ocean floor. And under your feet somewhere are fossils.
Probably the easiest way to plan a day looking for seashell fossils even if you live in Oklahoma or Kansas is to do some research for a salt bed or some other area of the state that has been identified as a place where lots of shells can be found. Many times such locations are designated as state parks or they are owned by a business that lets you dig for all the shells you want for a fee. These kinds of private parks are great because often the owners will conduct classes in how the shells became fossils millions of years ago. They may have the tools your family will need to conduct their own “dig” for long buried fossils and some guidelines on where to find some really good ones.
This can be a fun activity for the whole family. It is a way to take the natural instinct of children to dig in the dirt and turn it into a learning activity. When children come to understand the care real paleontologists and archeologists use to uncover fossils and carefully excavate them from the ground so they are not damaged, they may use that same care when digging in a sandy lake or former ocean bottom that is rich with fossilized shells for them to recover.
When the kids recover all the shells they can find, they will bring home their prizes and be so excited that they will nag you to death to help clean them up to put them on display in their rooms. This can become part two of the joy of discovery of going out and actually finding their own seashell fossils and then treasuring them by setting up their own natural history museum right at home. Along the way, the whole family learned a lot more about how fossils came to exist and how they are discovered and excavated for the good of all of us. That learning exercise makes this a wonderful family activity in every way.