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July 12, 2024 at 11:46:34 AM (EST)   

Frequently Asked Questions

  Who is EXTINCTIONS, Inc.?

EXTINCTIONS, Inc. is a business dedicated to supplying fossils to museums and collectors around the world. Our goal is to offer the highest quality products at the lowest prices possible. We have one of the largest, most complete, and most detailed fossil catalogs on the Internet. We are regarded as one of the premier fossil suppliers in the world. Our customers include the Smithsonian Institution, Royal Ontario Museum, Royal Tyrrell Museum, Philadelphia's Academy of Natural Sciences and other museums too numerous to mention. We have also donated specimens to museums, educational institutions, and thousands of teachers and children around the world.

EXTINCTIONS does much of its own field collecting and lab preparation, therefore we are a direct source for many fossils. We collect at private sites and have our own land leased solely for fossil excavation. We also acquire many fossils in the unprepared state, and let our full time preparators do the extraction. Our labs are equipped with state-of-the-art preparation tools, which include microscopes, air abrasive equipment (mini sandblasters), and diamond grinders. We also have a network of contacts worldwide that supply us with finished fossils from many regions around the globe.

EXTINCTIONS only sells real fossils in our fossil catalogs - reproductions and replicas are only sold in catalogs marked as such. We guarantee every fossil we offer for sale is authentic and correctly represented. Accordingly, we do not sell fossils found on public land or acquired from questionable sources. We strive to adhere to all laws governing the collection and sale of fossils in the United States and around the world.

Why should I buy a fossil from EXTINCTIONS, Inc.?

We have been collecting fossils in the field for over 25 years. We have collected at over a hundred separate dig sites in the US and Canada and have found tens of thousands of fossils over the years. Some of these fossils were featured in books and are on display in major museums. We’ve studied formations and cataloged the fossils found in them. In doing this field work, we have gained knowledge invaluable to knowing how rare a specimen is and what it is worth. It is this experience that makes us one of the most knowledgeable fossil suppliers in the industry.

We are one of a handful of fossils suppliers worldwide that do their own fossil preparation. Not only do we do all the preparation on fossils we find ourselves, but we also prepare fossils found by field collectors around the world and acquired by us in the “rough” state. We then do the “finish” prep under a microscope to reveal details rarely seen before. Please take time to examine in detail the specimens in our catalogs. Many hours of meticulous extraction went into each of these specimens, and the results speak for themselves.

We have been selling and trading fossils for the last 25 years. We have made hundreds of contacts worldwide and have been working with domestic and foreign suppliers for many years. We know the World Market of fossils as well as anyone. Our goal is to offer the highest quality fossils for the lowest possible cost. Please compare our “quality vs. cost” ratio with any other fossil supplier on the Internet. We are confident you will find that we offer one of the best combinations of quality, variety, and value available anywhere.

Do you have a retail store or showroom I can visit?

EXTINCTIONS, Inc. has operated Science & Nature Stores in major shopping malls for years, and now has a large showroom, "Sculpted Stone", in the Chapel Hills Mall in Colorado Springs, CO. Our products include actual items from Nature you can't find in similar stores - a huge line of fossils, minerals, seashells, and butterflies, for example. We offer a large variety of Scientific and Educational products, like telescopes and Chem-labs. We also carry familiar items found in similar stores - posters, t-shirts, books, toys, music, etc. And we listen to our customers - we have exhaustively searched for, found, and stocked our store with many items that our customers requested and couldn't find anywhere else.

If you are passing through Colorado, stop by to see our store. And, depending on our schedule, you might even be able to see our fossil preparation lab in use. We'll see you there!

Do you offer a print catalog of your fossils?

We do not offer a print catalog. Our stock rotates too quickly to keep a print catalog current. And we do not have a general price list of fossils we usually have in stock - each fossil is different and priced accordingly. We used to send out general catalogs, but customers were dismayed to find out most of the listed fossils were already sold.

How do I purchase products from EXTINCTIONS?

Just call (toll free), fax, write, send an email, or submit your order online. We accept credit cards (Visa, MasterCard, American Express, and Discover), checks (U.S. funds), and Money Orders (U.S. funds). All of our online stores use our Cross-Website Universal Shopping Cart and have a SECURE online order form that encrypts your credit card data.

Do you ship products overseas?

Yes, we ship to any location in the world. We've shipped hundreds of items to overseas areas like the UK, Japan, Australia, Central and South America, etc. We are very familiar with foreign shipping terms and Customs rules. We RARELY, if ever, run into a problem with an order that was shipped overseas.

How long will it take to get my order?

Usually, orders are shipped within 24 hours. Sometimes order processing is delayed by holidays or unforseen circumstances. We will ship your order as soon as physically possible. We ship all domestic orders FED-EX EXPRESS SAVER (THREE BUSINESS DAYS) INSURED unless instructed otherwise. Overseas orders will usually be shipped Air Mail Insured unless instructed otherwise. Delivery times vary depending on your location (US orders usually 2-5 days, Overseas orders usually 1-2 weeks). Next Day or Ground service is also available.

Does EXTINCTIONS sell their fossils wholesale?

Yes. We created an entire website to sell our fossils wholesale. At WholesaleFossils.com, we sell both bulk fossils in quantity and unique, one-of-a-kind specimens alike. WholesaleFossils.com is the only website that offers hundreds of different fossils at wholesale prices. This site was created for the mineral and fossil dealer / trader, large or small, to find quality fossils to resell at mineral shows, rock shops, flea markets, or eBay. We have sold fossils at rock shows for decades, so we know the kind of stock that sells - we offer these popular fossils in quantity at low wholesale prices. This site is also great for teachers / schools to assemble teaching collections. Many of the fossils we offer were self-collected, so we have scores of eclectic, non-commercial fossils that would be great for study or research. The general public can also shop this site, but there is a strict $100 minimum (wholesale) order.

What if I see a fossil on your website that is already sold and I want a similar one for my collection?

Send us a want list. We have many requests for fossils similar to the ones seen on our websites. We are preparing new fossils literally every day. We will also contact our many sources around the world to find what you are looking for. Just let us know what you want. Our main goal at EXTINCTIONS is to help you build a fossil collection you are proud of.

About Our Fossils

Do you sell real fossils?

EXTINCTIONS only sells REAL FOSSILS, period. All the fossils in our online stores and auctions are guaranteed to be original and as described. We will provide a Certificate of Authenticity for each fossil, if requested by the buyer.

What is the difference between "repair" and "restoration" on a fossil?

There is a huge difference between repair and restoration. Repair is defined as taking something that is broken and fixing it. Almost all fossils found in a limestone matrix need some type of repair. When the matrix is hard and dense, it has to be split and broken up to find the fossils inside. Some matrices are so hard and the fossils so ornate that the split would have to cut through the fossil at some spot. Since the fossil has been broken in half, parts of this fossil are embedded in each half. If you carefully join the two pieces back together, the fossil is again intact - although it is still encased in rock. We then take this embedded fossil and carefully extract it from the surrounding matrix under a microscope. If this is done correctly, there is no damage to the fossil except a microscopic crack where the fossil was first split. This "repair" does not devalue the fossil at all. In fact, these repaired and fully extracted fossils are some of the most collectible fossils in the world. A repaired fossil is a "mended" fossil, not a restored fossil.

Restoration is defined as the replacement of missing parts to make something whole again. Almost all dinosaur skeletons found in museums worldwide are extensively restored. Sometimes when you find a fossil in the field, a piece of the fossil is lost during the collection process. This missing piece then has to be restored to make the fossil complete again. Sometimes the fossil is missing pieces because it was not completely intact when the organism died. It might have been partially scavenged before death or disarticulated during burial. If the amount of restoration is small, the value of the specimen is not greatly affected. But if a specimen has a large amount of restoration, the fossil loses its integrity and its value decreases greatly. This is so with many Moroccan-prepared fossils (see our FAQ on Moroccan fossils). Many Moroccan fossils are extensively restored and are, therefore, not very collectible. These fossils are more of a “decorative item” than a valued collectible.

Restoration, when done well, adds to the aesthetic nature of the fossil. Some fossils (complete dinosaur skeletons and very rare fossils) are restored to show how the complete organism would have looked if fully intact. Restored fossils are valuable tools for study and museum displays. But the more a fossil is restored, the lower its scientific value and the less collectible the fossil is on the World Market.

I've heard rumors about dealers selling fake trilobites from Morocco. Is this true?

In Morocco, simple laborers do the field collecting and rough preparation. They do not get paid by the hour, they get paid by the piece. Therefore, the trilobites are prepared with time constraints in mind, not quality. They quickly chisel out a piece, and if spines or eyes are lost in the process, they just crudely reconstruct one out of bondo (putty). It is quicker to hack it out, then patch it up, than it is to prepare it correctly. Some Moroccan-prepared trilobites are more restoration than real fossil (some are even 100% bondo!), and are referred to as "bondo bugs". The final product is then painted, usually shoe-polish black or bright orange, and sold to fossil dealers around the world. Most Moroccan trilobites available for sale on the World Market are of this poor quality. We do not carry this low grade product line. WE ONLY SELL MOROCCAN TRILOBITES THAT HAVE BEEN PREPARED MICROSCOPICALLY IN OUR OWN PREP LAB! We acquire trilobites from Morocco that are fully or partially encased in the original matrix. We then do the preparation ourselves, using microscopes, air abrasive tools, and diamond grinders - the results are like night and day. This process takes many hours. But when they are finished, you can see amazing details like free-standing spines, compound eye facets, and beautiful, natural colorings. The trilobites listed in our catalogs have huge blow-up pictures so that you can easily see the details. Our Moroccan trilobites look as good as they did when they died millions of years ago. When purchasing Moroccan trilobites, the secret is to look at them very closely. If they do not have the same detail as the ones in our catalogs, they could be "bondo bugs".

How can I tell a fake Moroccan trilobite from a real one?

Ever since trilobite fossils were found in Morocco, the native Moroccans have been trying to reproduce them. It is much easier to cast or carve a fossil than to dig one up and prepare it. These artisans have had much practice, and they are getting incredibly adept at making fakes. Many trilobite collectors and dealers have fake or partially fake trilobites from Morocco in their collections and don’t even know it! It takes years of field collecting and lab preparation to know a real trilobite from a fake.

The first way to tell a fake is to look at the colors of the trilobite and the surrounding matrix. Look for natural color changes and subtle shade variations within the trilobite. Usually, a trilobite will have color variations within its exoskeleton - some more than others. A fake will usually be monochrome (one flat color) or almost two-toned, showing where restoration was added. The two most popular colors for the Moroccan fakes are flat black and bright orange. If you see a trilobite that is entirely shoe-polish black or entirely one shade of orange, it probably was “enhanced” by the Moroccans and painted to hide the restoration.

The next way to tell if the trilobite is real is to examine it under magnification. Most trilobites have some sort of reticulation (texture) on their exoskeletons. And the ones that are supposed to be smoooth are usually totally smooth and should not have telltale grooves like paint brush lines on them. When a trilobite is prepared under a microscope in a state-of-the-art preparation lab, minute details are exposed. Distinguishing characteristics like fine pustules or free-standing spines are exposed using this method. As with money, it is very hard to counterfeit these minute details.

Another way to tell a fake trilobite is by comparison. This can be confusing because you need a real one to compare to! We have posted pictures of real Moroccan trilobites in our TRILOBITES.COM Archive so you can compare a questionable trilobite to a real one. Please note, again, the true colors and fine details found on real Moroccan trilobites. When they are real and prepared correctly, they are some of the best trilobites found in the world.

And, finally, the best way to tell a fake Moroccan trilobite is to ask someone knowledgable. If YOU can't tell, ask someone who can. We have been preparing Moroccan trilobites for many years and can tell a fake from the genuine article. Send us the trilobite, or a good picture, and we will gladly help you determine its pedigree. If you are thinking about buying a trilobite at a fossil show and can't send us the fossil, ask the dealer about his knowledge of Moroccan trilobites. Also ask the history of the particular specimen. The more reputable fossil dealers will remember the details about the preparation history, rarity, etc. of each specimen. If he doesn't seem to know much about that specific bug, BEWARE! A fossil dealer of this caliber is not able to help you avoid fakes. He probably doesn't know the difference himself. Again, just because someone sells Moroccan trilobites doesn't mean he is an expert. Also, paleo people at your larger local museums or universities should be able to help.

What is the difference between copal and amber?

First, let us say that copal is not amber! Both copal and amber are tree resin (sap) that has hardened over time. But amber is a true fossil; it has turned to stone. It does not melt when heated slightly and is usually dark orange in color. Copal is not a true fossil, sometimes being formed as little as a few hundred years ago. It becomes tacky when heated, occasionally smells like pine when rubbed, and is usually almost clear or light yellow in appearance. True amber is rare compared to copal, which is very common. Insects in amber are much rarer than in copal. If you see a piece of "amber" with many insects, it is either copal, or amber worth hundreds of dollars. Some fossil dealers sell cheap copal (from Colombia, for example) as expensive amber to uneducated customers. EXTINCTIONS only sells true amber. Our amber website, AmberCompany.com does not sell copal at all, so there can be no question as to which type of resin it is. If you see a piece of amber on our website, you can be sure it is guaranteed authentic fossilized tree resin, or true amber.

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