Extract fossil from rock?

Last summer, on a visit to the in-laws’ house, during a walk around their property (they own about 150 acres, mostly of dense woods) I found a palm-sized rock near a creek with what appear to be several crinoid fossil(s) embedded in it. This is in Indiana, about 40 minutes’ drive from Louisville (including about 20 minutes on country roads through the woods; it gets real country real fast out there, if you’ve never been). There’s one “tube” end sticking out of one end of the rock, and the side of at least one other section is visible on the surface on another side.

Anyways, the whole thing is quite solid. My geology is poor so I couldn’t begin to tell you what type of rock it is; to me it’s dark orange, but my judgment of color cannot be trusted, and surely it’s sedimentary but I can’t tell you much more than that. I hit it with a ball-peen hammer a few times, gingerly, and nothing budged. I could post a picture of it later when I get home.

I’d like to get a better look at the fossils themselves. There may not even be much more than what is exposed, but I’d like to either extract the fossils completely or at least excise some of the extraneous rock to get a better look at them.

I have a Dremel and lots of other tools.

I guess what I’m really asking is, is it worth a shot, or should I leave such things to professionals and leave it alone? I certainly don’t want to destroy it.

Find an archaeological museum or professor. Consult a real expert. They probably won’t charge money for it, and certainly not for the first consultation.

Or, heck, give 'er a go with the Dremel.

or paleontological:D

Unlikely to be more than a few stray columnals (or short segments of them.) Extracting them depends on the hardness of the rock and the hardness of the fossils. But think chipping off grains a speck at a time with a push pin over the course of many hours of work rather than attacking it with a Dremel. Honestly, unless it is an especially soft matrix and much harder fossils (and you have an articulated calyx and not just a few columnals) you are probably looking at much more time and effort than it is worth.

Oh, and if you are going to ask a forum, no dissin’ the dope, but www.thefossilforum.com is a better choice.

Word. Thanks for the links!

I’ve just been staring at this thing, sitting on my desk, for months and I’m fascinated by it. I realize what I have is very common and unexciting as far as fossils go, but I just like that it’s something from the sea that I found on the ground 800 miles from the nearest ocean (I know it’s likely from when the area was underwater, but it’s still pretty cool).

The part of Indiana you found that in might be from the same period as some of my favorite fossils, the Cincinnatian period of the Ordovician.You can see some of my (purchased) fossils from the period here (many of mine were found in a place called Mount Orab, Ohio.)

Or even mineralogical or geological! Or a mining engineer. Lots o’ choices!

In case you’re interested, here’s some photos I just took of it, both sides and a few detail shots.


I know next to nothing about this stuff, but…

I’d guess the fossil is somewhat harder than the matrix, if it’s sticking out like that.

Also, I totally get your fascination with this. Fossils in general are pretty cool. But one you’ve found yourself- really cool.

I really suck at finding fossils. :frowning:

Lastly, I have a “professionally” prepared fossil at home. Can’t remember where we got, possibly a charity auction (I hope). There is crinoid (or something) in it, but it’s been carved to look like the are worm-shapes or something. Even part of the matrix has been carved this way. I get a little nauseous just looking at it sometimes, feeling like a rube proudly displaying a ruined fossil.

But you should definitely try the push-pin thing, starting out with practice away from the fossil. Check back in with us (in a couple of years). :slight_smile:

That looks almost like a coquina. The rock itself is composed of fragments of other shells.

Depending on how strongly the fragments are cemented together, you might be able to extract the crinoids usingdental tools, which you should be able to pick up at a drugstore or order on line.

Believe me, it was total dumb luck.

I had been skipping stones up the creek and when that got boring I just started hucking rocks into the water to see how big a splash I could make. At one point I just happened to peek at the rock in my hand and noticed the tube sticking out of it and took a better look, and that’s when I saw what I had. I looked around for more but that was the only one I found.

I think you may be right. There’s a lot of tiny stuff in there that’s definitely not pebbles; looks like broken shells and little tiny broken off tubes.

Yes, it looks to me like there are a lot of rings from the stems of much smaller crinoids.

I think you should get one of those hammers they all carry around, y’know, the one with the point on the end. Like prospectors carry!

Then you can dig a tunnel and go to Mexico!