|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
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
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
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.