Florida Geological Survey
Collecting fossils in Florida: what you need to know
In Florida it is illegal to collect
vertebrate fossils (excluding shark teeth) without a permit
from lands owned by the state.
State lands include the bottoms of navigable waterways like rivers, lakes and some streams.
A permit to collect vertebrate fossils on state lands
can be obtained through the Florida Museum of Natural
History (see link below). There is a
$5.00 fee per year and the permit holder agrees to report
their vertebrate fossil finds on a yearly basis.
The state has the right to claim any fossils found
that are deemed scientifically significant as a condition of
issuing the permit. This law
applies to both Florida residents and those travelling to
shark teeth may be collected
in Florida without a permit.
vertebrate fossils (jaws and
teeth) which can be
collected on state lands
with a permit AND a
prehistoric human artifact
(Bolen beveled) which is
illegal to collect.
Like shark teeth,
invertebrate and plant
fossils can be collected
without a permit (sea
shells, echinoids, and
petrified wood). Often times
fossil hunters come across
The difference between
fossils and artifacts is
that an artifact represents
something that has been
shaped or constructed by
prehistoric humans while
fossils are the remains of
Sometimes it is difficult to
distinguish between the two
as prehistoric people
fossils as ornaments and
An example of fossil material that can also be an
artifact is agatized coral.
utilized this material to
construct projectile points
and other tools.
If you cannot tell the
difference then it is best
to leave the object where it
Collecting of human
artifacts on state lands is
|Examples of fossils that do not require a permit to collect from state lands.
Fossil sea shells
No fossil collecting of any type is allowed inside the
boundaries of national and state parks or wildlife refuges.
It is suggested that fossil collectors check with the land
manager of any lands they are interested in collecting from
as some areas are off limits to collecting of any kind.
Remember, this only applies to state lands; private lands
are a different matter. It is not illegal to remove either
human artifacts or vertebrate fossils from private land as
long as you have the landowner’s permission. However, the
collection of artifacts on private land is not allowed if
the area contains a human burial. (Photos and text
contributed by Guy Means)
July 25, 2012
903 W. Tennessee Street
Tallahassee, Florida 32304
850-617-0300 (phone) 850-617-0341 (fax)
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