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Where to Find Fossils in Alabama? All You Need to Know

Alabama is a great location for rockhounding, especially if you’re hunting for fossils. This state is particularly known for its coal age plant fossils which could become a great addition to your collections. 

But also, if this is your first time rockhounding or you are trying to find your first fossil, Alabama is the state to be.

Fossils are extremely interesting because of their beauty and age and because they take us into the past and teach us the history of the earth.

In Alabama, you can find an immense diversity of fossils, ranging from small fossils to giant ones.

Also, the state is the protagonist of a number of sites that reveal fossils bearing rocks that go back to the Cambrian period. 

Alabama can be an amazing location for rockhounding, and if you’re a local starting out in this hobby, you definitely have a great place to start. I will also add that having a piece of history like a fossil can definitely give you some “status” in the rockhounding community but what’s most important is the pleasure of finding it with your own effort.

Another interesting fact about fossils that are found within rocks is that scientists use them to determine the age of the rock or the age of the animal. So you can definitely take your fossil and put an age stamp on it. How cool is that?

Knowing how many millions of years a fossil or rock has may not be interesting for some, but there is always a story that comes with it that will definitely pique the interest of any enthusiast.

Where to Find Fossils in Alabama?

There are many locations you can go to in Alabama when looking for fossils. A great location where you will find lots of fossils is the Cahaba River in Alabama. Sure this is a big river to explore, but I guess that’s the point. This river is completely known for having lots of plant fossils which could be great for your collection. Other locations of interest might be:

1. East Gulf Coastal Plain Physiographic Section

This is a beach area where you have the possibility of finding sharks, sea urchins, snails, clams, but the possibilities are endless since this area is famously known for the best Alabama fossil findings. 

2. Walker County, Alabama, specifically the former Union Chapel surface coal mine located near Sumiton in Walker County.

This area is also known by the fossils you can find, in fact a woman found the footprints of an amphibian that lived 300millions years ago. 

3. The city of Auburn is located in Lee County in east-central Alabama. 

This location is famously known because a kid found a dinosaur egg, not saying you will, but just to give you an idea of the possibilities. But who knows, you can get lucky.

And you might be wondering why I’m not specific with the locations; the thing is, there is no specific x in the map to find a fossil, so you will have to investigate this location and make a plan of exploration which can be fun.

Near the rivers, beaches, mountains, these are all possibilities of finding fossils; just take the time to see where in these locations you can just go and explore.

But if you need a specific location where you can get start it you can visit: 

Mines and pits along Black Warrior River between Brookwood & Peterson.

Here are the coordinates:

33°16’42.1″N 87°23’57.9″W

As I previously mentioned, Alabama is commonly known for its plant age fossils. Yes, there are many locations where you can find fossils, but where they are most abundant is in NorthWest Alabama in the coal mines. 

Other common fossils you can find in Alabama are shales, limestones, gastropods and trilobites.

So as you can see, there are many locations and different types of fossils that you can find in Alabama; the reality is that you just have to go out there and explore.

Fossil Collecting Laws in Alabama

When it comes to fossil hunting, the laws vary depending on the location your going to. 

For example:

The first thing you should know is that important scientific discoveries in state land regarding fossils will become the property of local museums. This is a state law. 

Second, traditional mining sites owned by the state may require a permit in order to go to these locations. However, many educational groups can set up visits at the Alabama Paleontological Society.

Alabama laws allow the collection of all fossils with one exception, which is a whale fossil; it can’t be collected or removed without the necessary permits.

And, of course, archaeological sites are excluded from these rules.

As a general rule, you can definitely go out to public areas to hunt for fossils, but any restricted area requires permits and also, if you have any doubts get in contact with your local authorities to confirm if you can or cannot explore a specific area. 

As this is only my opinion and you should never follow legal advice from the internet. 

Fossils Found in Alabama

In Alabama, you can find different types of fossils. There is a great variety. The following are just an example of what’s been found.

Giant prehistoric whales

Tiny microfossils 

Whales Tough

Paleozoic invertebrates

Pennsylvanian plants

Tertiary mollusks

Vertebrates

A variety of dinosaurs

Conclusion: Where to Find Fossils in Alabama?

As I previously mentioned, there are many great locations where you can find fossils in Alabama. One of them is the East Gulf Coastal Plain Physiographic Section, which is part 40 of Alabama’s 67 counties; there, close to the beach, you will find great opportunities to find fossils.

There are other locations in the northwest part of Alabama, which you can also explore, and the Cahaba River in Alabama is another area that could be great.

But at the end of the day, the most important thing is to go out there and explore, which will give you a greater chance of finding fossils.