Found a Fossil?

Alberta has some of the strictest fossil protection laws in the world. The fossilized remains of plants and animals, or traces of their activities, are protected under the Government of Alberta's Historical Resources Act. Violation of the Act is punishable by fines of up to $50,000 and/or one year in prison.


If you find a fossil, the location is as important as the fossil itself.

 

camera-icon   Photograph it and note any visible features (for scale, include a coin or pen).

 map-icon  Locate it on a map using permanent landmarks (use GPS if available).

 b-icon  Leave it buried. If the fossil is lying on the surface of the ground, bring it to the Museum.


Tips from the public can help palaeontologists make amazing discoveries. You could make an important contribution to science by reporting information about a fossil!


Collecting

There are two methods of collecting fossils.

Surface collecting: collecting isolated fossils that are clearly on the surface of the ground. This method is only allowed on provincial Crown land, and on private land with the landowner's permission.

Excavating: dislodging or digging up fossils embedded or buried in the ground, or within a rock face. Excavating fossils requires a permit that is only available to professional palaeontologists. Permits are issued by Alberta Culture, Multiculturalism, and Status of Women through the Royal Tyrrell Museum.

Fossils in Protected Areas

You cannot collect fossils in any provincial or national park, or protected area. Collecting is not allowed in Midland Provincial Park, where the Museum is located.

Keeping

If you live in Alberta and you legally surface collect a fossil, you may keep it. You cannot sell, alter, or remove the specimen from the province without permission from the Government of Alberta.

To gain ownership of a fossil, you must apply for a Disposition Certificate from the Government of Alberta through our Resource Management Program.

Only four types of fossils are eligible for disposition: ammonites, petrified wood, leaf impressions, and oysters.

Selling

Fossils collected in Alberta cannot be sold without obtaining a Disposition Certificate from the Government of Alberta through the Royal Tyrrell Museum. Fossils sold in Alberta shops are often collected in the United States, Europe, and Africa, where fossil protection laws are different.


Further Information

For more information on the Historical Resources Act, contact our Resource Management Program.

To read the Historical Resources Act online, visit The Queen's Printer - Province of Alberta.

Dan Spivak
Head of Resource Management
Email: dan.spivak@gov.ab.ca
Phone: 403-820-6210