How to Become a Fossil

Fossil, Gorgonopsid

Do you dream that your bones may one day end up in the museum of a new civilization an aeon from now? Only one bone in a billion ends up being fossilised, so do your planning now.

The Kitching Fossil Exploration Centre in Nieu-Bethesda explains, in a light-hearted way, the rather stringent conditions:

  1. Die on a floodplain close to a meandering river in a lowland area where silt and mud accumulate.
  2. Die where you’ll get buried in mud and sand, preferably on a lakeshore or a migrating sand dune.
  3. Avoid being eaten by big scavenging bone-crunchers like hyena. Better still, die in a burrow, but definitely avoid being buried in a coffin.
  4. Either way, get buried quickly. Within five years your bones will disintegrate if they’re exposed. A collapsed burrow, a tar pit or simple quicksand would be perfect.
  5. You’ll need your bones to be mineralised within 50 000 years, so your resting place should ideally have plenty of limestone in the soil. This will also stop them becoming flattened.
  6. Avoid places where there might be volcanoes or earthquakes.
  7. Try to die in a place where an experienced fossil finder will discover you in a million years.
    Uncovering fossil
    The painstaking process of separating stone from fossil.

The Kitching Fossil Exploration Centre is one of Nieu-Bethesda’s attractions. It’s open between 9am and 5pm most days. They have a Facebook page (  To contact them, call 011 717 6685 or 076 629 0058. You could also email or Alternately email

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