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Dinosaur Fossil Buyers Guide

velociraptor attacking a conchoraptor

From our childhood toys to the Jurassic Park franchise, the idea of real living dinosaurs sparks a flame of awe and excitement in all of us. Even as adults our imagination runs wild with the thought of these prehistoric creatures, having roamed the earth millions of years before us.

Which is (in part) why the allure of buying dinosaur fossils is so great. But even for seasoned fossil hunters, the prospect of buying dinosaur fossils can be a daunting one. Where should you shop? Who can you trust? What do you need to look out for? How can you make sure you don’t “overpay”?

In this guide, we’ll take you from the stone age to the modern age with tips and tricks you can use to hit the ground running when seeking out the perfect purchase for your growing (or new) dinosaur fossil collection.

Let’s dive right in…

Buying Dinosaur Fossils

Determine What Kind of Dinosaur Fossil You Had in Mind

Consider the following when searching for and narrowing down the type of fossil(s) you want to purchase for your collection…

1. Specific Geologic Time Period

Science organizes the Earth’s 4.5 billion-year history according to a Geologic Time Scale, divided into four major periods:

  • Precambrian
  • Paleozoic Era
  • Mesozoic Era
  • Cenozoic Era

As it relates to dinosaurs, the Mesozoic Era is likely where you will focus your search. This period is marked by dinosaurs, crocodiles and pterosaurs ruling both air and land.

stegosaurus Drawing

2. Species of Dinosaur

We all know the big ones: Tyrannosaurus Rex, Triceratops, Velociraptor, Stegosaurus, Spinosaurus and Brachiosaurus. But don’t limit your search to the “popular” dinosaurs. Not only are some of these fossils more difficult to acquire, but they can also command hefty price tags.

3. Type of Fossil

Fossils are categorized into four primary categories:

  • Mold – fossilized impression (usually on rock)
  • Cast – formed when a fossil mold is filled in
  • Trace – fossilized burrows, footprints, nests or gastroliths
  • True Form – a complete fossil of the specimen or part of the dinosaur

Research is Key

As with any purchase, treat fossils as you would any other investment. You may know a little or a lot about fossils, however, taking the time to learn about the particular fossils you are interested in will pay dividends when you saddle up to hunt down the right deal.

Here are some Popular Categories to Get you Started:

  • Megalodon Teeth
  • Ammonites
  • Fossil Fish
  • Trilobite Fossils
  • Amber with Insects
  • Misc. Dinosaur Teeth

How Much Should You Budget?

This is an incredibly loaded question. Or example, dinosaur fossils can sell for as little as $20 to as high $2.6 million-plus.


Factors that can Impact Price of Dinosaur Fossils:

  • Geologic time period
  • Species
  • Level of preservation
  • Size
  • Type of fossil (mold, true form, etc.)
  • Geographic region
  • Past, current and future projected demand
  • Comparable recent sales

Pro Tip to Not Overpay

Again, research can play a big role in making sure you’re not getting ripped off or paying too much. A good rule of thumb is to identify a few “common” lower-priced fossils and establish a benchmark price for them. Search online (and local if available) and come up with what appears to be a fair average price.

What can you do with this information? We can make some generalized assumptions. If they are overcharging for these items for which you have established a “fair” price, you can expect that they are also overcharging on other fossils in their store. This is a simple but often-underutilized technique to make sure you’re getting fair value for your hard-earned dollars.

Where Can you Find Fossils to Buy?

T-rex skull

You can’t run down to the local Walmart and purchase fossils; we all know this. But where can you find authentic, high-quality fossils at fair prices?

Online Fossil Sites

Websites such as provide educators, novice collectors and fossil enthusiasts alike with an impressive archive of valuable resources to help them find the perfect fossil for their collection. Fossilicious has a broad range of dinosaur fossils, from teeth to eggshells, and yes, even dinosaur poop!

Because of their specialization and focus, fossil sites generally have a wider selection of dinosaur fossils to choose from and at prices that are typically more competitive than a local shop.

Trade Shows and Expos

Not only are fossil and mineral trade shows a lot of fun to experience and explore, but they are also often a great place to network and meet with like-minded collectors. Trade shows and exhibit partners are a great place to look for sellers and traders of dinosaur fossils.

Local Specialty/Gift Shops

Although not an option for most of us, you may be within driving distance of a local mineral/gemstone or fossil shop. In some areas known for their fossil density, gift shops may even sell small (usually lower quality) fossils.

dinosaur collection

Auction Houses

Typically only advisable for serious players, the best and most spectacular fossils can often be found on the auction block, commanding price tags as enormous as the dinosaurs they come from.


Although less typical, some jewelers may have specialty settings that incorporate fossils, gems or amber encased insects.

The Hunt is Part of the Fun

Searching for the perfect dinosaur fossil to add to your collection can be an altogether enjoyable experience full of excitement and anticipation. You never know what you might find on your next search.

By following the tips in this guide, you’ll be well on your way to getting the best value and finding the right fit for your display.

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INTERESTED IN MORE INFORMATION? IF SO, YOU MAY WANT TO CHECK OUT OUR OTHER SITES: - An educational site about fossils and geologic time - An educational site about rocks, minerals, and geology.

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