World’s Largest Fossil Dig Guidelines

Greetings, history maker! Today we attempt to set the inaugural GUINNESS WORLD RECORDS™ title for World’s Largest Fossil Dig at Penn Dixie. We ask that you carefully read all of our event guidelines in order to make sure that you will be counted in this record setting attempt. GUINNESS WORLD RECORDS™ has established very specific guidelines for us all to follow and we hope that you will help us with this task.

Timeline of Events

9:00 – 10:30 AM          Arrival; receive materials and instructions. Stewards briefed at 9:45 AM.

10:30 – 10:45 AM        Collector preparation time.

10:45 – 11:00 AM        Everyone meets near large pavilion for welcome and announcements.

11:00 – 11:15 AM        Collectors travel to designated group collecting areas with stewards.

11:15 – 11:30 AM        Collectors receive briefing from group stewards.

11:30 – 12:00 PM        Official fossil collecting window.

12:00 – 12:15 PM        Collectors supply bagged fossils to stewards. Food trucks serve lunch.

12:15 – 12:30 PM        Stewards collect all fossils to deliver to paleontologists.

12:30 – 3:00 PM          Collectors may remain to collect additional fossils. Cleanup.

3:00 PM                       Penn Dixie closes.

Before the Dig

Between 9 and 10:45 AM we will help our fossil collectors (i.e., you) with parking, registration, and distribution of materials. All collectors will receive the following:

  1. Numbered wrist band: Must be worn at all times. You keep this item.
  2. Commemorative shirt: Optional but we hope you will don your official apparel during the dig! You keep this item.
  3. Commemorative bag: Contains important instructions and should be used for fossil collecting. You keep this item.
  4. Garden trowel: Per Guinness rules, a tool must be used to collect fossils. You are welcome to use your own tools (e.g., shovels, trowels, hammers) but all collectors must have a tool. You may keep the trowel or donate it to Penn Dixie for school tours.
  5. This guide: Includes essential reading.
  6. Fossil zone: Small sheet of paper indicating your designated fossil collecting area.
  7. Plastic zip seal bag: At the end of the dig period we will collect two fossils from each collector for submission to a certified paleontologist. Please choose two fossils that can be submitted for this purpose. Your steward will help you identify your fossils for this step. After official verification, you will have the opportunity to visit Penn Dixie to claim your fossils.
  8. Paper verification slip and golf pencil: VERY important — see above. In order to meet Guinness guidelines we will collect your information a second time. Please complete all fields on the paper and include it with your sealed plastic bag when you submit your fossils. You may keep the pencil or return it to your steward.

Preparing for the Dig

Once you have registered and received the above materials, please make use of the available time to apply sunscreen, use the restroom, grab extra water and snacks, load your supplies, and confirm that all members of your group have read and understand the rules. During the event it will not be possible for you to return to your vehicle or travel to the restroom. Per Guinness requirements, collectors who leave the designated collecting areas during the official collecting time will be disqualified. Please take care of business — including phone calls — ahead of time.

We understand that there will be extra time between registration and the start of the event. The event was designed to accommodate many uncertainties (e.g., adverse weather) and we thank you in advance for your patience during this time.

Prior to 10:45 AM you may relax in the parking area, take a short walk, tour our nature trails, or collect fossils in the southern half of our park outside of roped areas. You may also leave the property, though we recommend keeping a close eye on the clock. Collectors who register and leave may not be readmitted if they return once the dig has begun. The northern half of Penn Dixie will be closed so that we can prepare for the big dig but our nature trail will remain open. During this time we request that you remain outside the official event areas.

Traveling to your Collecting Area

At 11 AM all collectors will travel to collecting areas. Your collecting area will be indicated on a slip of paper that you receive upon arrival. Collecting areas will be marked with signs and stewards will be available to help you to your area. We will also have maps available. Per Guinness rules, collecting areas may have no more than 50 participants. As such, you must travel to and remain in your area for the duration of the event. If you wish to switch areas, please make your request at the registration table prior to 10:30 AM.


At 11:15 AM your steward will address all collectors in your designated area and outline the rules of the dig. Please follow all instructions. He or she will also provide an introduction to fossil collecting and will share some examples of the types of fossils that you will find at Penn Dixie. We encourage you to become familiar with the most common types of fossils that you will encounter. If anything is uncertain — please ask. Our stewards are here to help. This is also the last opportunity for an emergency trip to the restroom or your vehicle. However, we cannot guarantee that you will be allowed to participate if you leave the collecting area and do not return prior to 11:30 AM. We need you — please keep this in mind!!

The Big Dig!

At exactly 11:30 AM an air horn will sound to begin our record attempt. GUINNESS WORLD RECORDS™ requires that you actively search for fossils — using the appropriate tools — for 30 minutes. You do not have to find fossils the whole time and you do not have to find many fossils. In our experience, however, 30 minutes is more than enough time to assemble a small collection of Penn Dixie fossils.

During this time — and per Guinness rules — anyone who leaves the collecting area and/or ceases to participate in fossil collecting is disqualified. We do not want this to happen to you but we must follow the established protocol in order for the attempt to count. If you are disqualified we ask that you remain polite towards our volunteers — they are only following the rules that we must enforce.

If needed, you are welcome to take a short break from collecting to drink water or rest within your area. You may also collect fossils from a kneeling or seated position. Folding camp chairs are welcome in the dig areas.

Our staff notes that many exceptional Penn Dixie fossils have been found by collectors who work very close to the ground. Collectors — in particular, those in wheelchairs or those who require a travel seat — are welcome to use a reach tool. If you are having a medical emergency, please cease all collecting activity and contact a steward immediately. 

Submitting Evidence

At 12:00 PM an air horn will sound to announce the end of the dig. Please examine your fossils and select two (2) specimens to submit for analysis. The specimens do not have to be a particular type of fossil or particularly special. In fact, we would rather not receive your best or favorite fossils. But, we do need them for verification purposes. You may place your submitted fossils into the plastic bag provided.

In addition to the fossils, please complete all fields on the paper slip stapled to the bag. Seal your bag and present it to your steward. If the steward accepts your submission then you are free to leave the collecting area.

After The Dig

Once your fossils are submitted you are free to leave the venue. Alternatively, you may choose to enjoy our visiting food and dessert trucks. After 12:30 PM all areas of Penn Dixie will be reopened for fossil collecting by our visitors. Lunch and snacks will be available from 12 pm to 2 pm. The park will close at 3 PM — instead of our usual 5 PM — following the dig.

Your fossils — along with all of our evidence — will be submitted to GUINNESS WORLD RECORDS™ following the dig. The verification process can take months and we are not certain of when the official ruling will be made. (FYI: It is outside of our budget to invite an official judge). We will contact you via email with pertinent news and look forward to the day when we receive our official notification. Please be sure to provide an accurate email address.

First Aid

We will have first aid stations at our check in tables. Our staff are trained in first aid and CPR and we ask that you report all injuries to us. If you have a minor injury (e.g., finger wound) during the fossil dig, please alert your steward and we will attempt to address the issue while you remain in your designated area.

Important Penn Dixie Rules

No throwing of objects, especially rocks

Walk, don’t run

Do not disturb wildlife

Be safe on the large piles of rocks and hills

Fossils, rocks, and minerals may be collected and kept

Alcohol and smoking are prohibited

Please take trash with you or place in cans

Drive slowly when leaving — we’re in a residential area

Additional Notes

During the dig a drone will be flying overhead to photograph the event. Additionally, volunteers will take photos and video of fossil collectors and volunteers. These images will be used for record verification purposes with GUINNESS WORLD RECORDS™ and may also be posted to our social media and website for promotion of Penn Dixie. During the event you are welcome to take photos and videos.