Finding a Dinosaur

Dick Wills

Dick Wills

Finding the Extent of Formations Containing Dinosaurs

The geological data you will need may be in either manual, hard copy form on interactive online form. 

Manual Hard Copy Geological Maps

I studied all of the detailed geological maps I could find to specifically locate where the Cretaceous age sediments were exposed. Of course this was always in areas where others had found dinosaur fossils in the past. You often need to tape several quadrangle maps together to view the full extend of a fossil bearing formation.

Paper or laminated copies of Geological maps are available from the USGS and State Geological Survey. Geological 30’x60’ Quadrangle maps scaled between 1:24,000 to 1:100,000 are available for purchase on line. The (BLM) Bureau of Land Management also provides maps that can be purchased online.

Some State Geological Survey Department staff advised that map data are often collected by students working on a field study for a University, and that the data are their best estimates. So, when you’re out in the field expect to find discrepancies as to the formation that is actually at the surface at a particular location.

To get the Hard Copy Geological maps I did the following:

  • Went to (NGMDB stands for National Geological Map Data Base)
  • Clicked on Map Catalog.
  • Entered Map Title, Author or Map Series under Keywords, if known.
  • Entered State of your search under “States & Territories”
  • This generated a list of maps that are available and identifies the publisher.

I found most of the maps I wanted were published by and through the state’s Geological Survey Administration or office. I called several state offices for help and guidance when needed.

Online Geological & Ownership Maps

Maps are available online in a variety of formats. Some examples are:

Entire United States

Bureau of Land Management





One Response

  1. Hello Dick- Excellent data on how and where to execute a successful search for dinosaur fossils!! Very thorough, yet not overwhelming or boring, with great website connections to aid a person’s search. Very helpful!
    Your video selections in the ‘Galleries’ are very interesting but need a bit of explanation in order to be appreciated.

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Triceratops Skull

Finding A Dinosaur

by Dick Wills

Finding A Dinosaur

by Dick Wills