Tucson Fossil Show

I attended a few days around the opening of this huge international fossil, gem & mineral show in Tucson, Arizona over the past few days that takes place annually at the end of January and runs for 2 or 3 weeks. It’s huge, it’s massive, it takes place in many, many different venues all around town. It’s in huge tents, takes over many whole hotels with all the rooms used as display areas for different vendors, the convention center, a fancy hotel out in the desert that specializes in hosting only exclusive, high end gems (think rubies, emeralds and diamonds). There are dinosaur fossils, mammal fossils, shark teeth, creepy crawly things like trilobites and crinoid plates, there are exotic, fanciful shelled animal fossils full of vibrant mineralized color, fishes from all over the world, and gems and crystals and more rocks and more minerals and more….

It sure is simply overwhelming. So I go and focus on checking out the fossil selections, mostly to just see what’s new and what people are finding and to get to meet and mix a little with collectors and paleontologists who are deep into this fossil world. I’ve not purchased much, I so want to find items myself and then do the preparation and clean up. I did buy a few small, flat slabs of limestone from the Green River Formation in Wyoming from a dealer who had left them raw, unprepared just for people like me! They were very inexpensive and are one or two of the most common fish found in this special “fossil lake” near Kemmerer, Wyoming. I’ve not yet made the opportunity to go there to learn how they quarry these flat, thin slabs of stone out of the ground. I know it’s a significantly different way of working than what I normally do when digging on and removing dinosaur bones. The fish and other marine animals found in this formation are all smashed flat during fossilization so they are prepared and presented on thin slabs of stone and are 2D compared to whole bones. I look forward to seeing how they prep out and glad they are common species so any mistakes I make will be chalked up to the learning curve needed to figure out the methods to prepare them.

The Green River Formation fossil fish I picked up are shown here with a pencil mark highlighting where the row of vertebrae are on each piece. And a handful of red rocks given to me by a friend from Germany. Each is holding a marine fossil like the one that Martin already cleaned up.

Here are a few images from the show venues I toured. Quite a variety of different things for sale everywhere.

Some fancy and rare petrified wood with clear evidence of copper related minerals that formed it (the blues and greens from copper and related minerals).
One of many huge tent cities that appear for the annual show, filled with people and stuff.
I focused on booths and particular show areas know for fossil displays.
Minerals and jewelry quality gemstones are a huge draw to the show as well as fossil stuff.
Huge “plate” of fossil crinoid animals. Like modern sea corals, crinoids were animals, not plants. here’s a large stone record of a bunch of them all together.
More fossils. This looks like a large, scary brontothere/titanothere mammal fossil skull.
Dunkleosteus fossil fish from pre-dinosaur times! Along with some other fantastic fossil plates on the walls.
Blue rock anyone? Overwhelming for sure.

Oh, and did I mention, I got to experience mostly clear blue skies and sunshine here in Arizona this past weekend? It was a nice break from the grey and dull weather at home in Indiana in January. Wonderful to be here in the high 60’s to high 70 degree days!