EQUIPMENTSometimes you don't need any equipment whatsoever. Twenty years after the fossils (described here) were collected, I accompanied a science instructor and some students across the Humber River to a site north-west of the Dundas Street West bridge. The instructor wanted to collect bryozoa specimens from the sloping river bank, but asked me to show him where they were. I had never been at this particular location before, but accompanied him up the slope keeping my eyes open for a possible layer of the more recent clump-like species. Luck was with me, and earned me the status of "expert" in his eyes, as I tossed more than a dozen globular colonies to the students at the bottom of the hill and provided him with an ample number of similar samples.
Some fossils are imbedded in rocks which are already loose and may be collected as is. Two pages further on, you will find four pictures. Number four, a nautiloid with its chambers exposed, is a fairly common type of discovery. The second photograph shows a crinoid stem fragment imbedded in limestone; this rock was collected without an excessive amount of work.
In the course of collecting many other fossils, you'll need a hammer, cold chisels and goggles. The first photograph illustrates a common pelecypod mould in a limestone matrix. Two chisels were used under the layer to pry it loose from the river bed, and a couple of well-directed blows with the hammer removed unwanted rock so that the item was easier to carry. (Incidentally, a damp towel was used to enhance the detail in the mould just prior to photographing it.) If this fossil had been too difficult to collect, I might have taken the photograph on the spot so that I'd have a mould to compare with the scallop cast which is included with the photographs of pelecypods later on.
Fancy knapsacks, geologist's hammers, and brushes are for the most serious fossil hunters, but are not essential for beginners. Good substitutes for draw-string cloth bags are zipper plastic storage bags; label the plastic bags with a black felt pen. The mini-maps, mentioned earlier, can serve for adding other identifying data, and may be tucked into the bags with the fossil(s) instead of labels. Don't forget the sun block (15+ or better) on those hot days of summer.
Beware of loose rocks. Watch out for those below you when you're climbing steep cliffs. Watch out for those above you; i.e. don't stand where you may be struck by dislodged rocks. Don't assume that you'll never require a First Aid kit, in any case.