Answers to some of our most frequently asked questions about the Department of Invertebrate Zoology and Geology.
How may I request a loan?
Where can I go to collect minerals/fossils?
In the Bay Area, most potential collecting sites are on private land or in a county/state/federal park, where collecting is not allowed. We suggest joining a local gem and mineral society (there are lots of them in Northern California and elsewhere) or taking a class at the nearest university or community college. Those groups often take field trips to local sites of geologic interest where collecting is allowed—and learning some geology along the way makes it more fun!
Where can I go to see minerals and fossils on exhibit?
The Academy's Gem and Mineral Vault can be experienced by taking a Behind-the-Scenes Tour. The California State mineral collection, which used to be on display in the Ferry Building in San Francisco, is now located in Mariposa, near Yosemite, where it is displayed at the County Fairgrounds, in the care of California State Parks. (Note that it is unknown at this time whether that park will survive the State's government shutdown schedule; we recommend calling ahead.) Additionally, there are a few minerals on display at UC Berkeley and Stanford, though no organized exhibits. The largest nearby mineral and fossil displays are located at the Los Angeles County Museum of Natural History.
I think I've found a meteorite/dinosaur bone/fossil. How can I tell if it's real? Can I bring it in and have someone look at it?
We recommend taking a couple of clear photographs of your specimen and sending them to us either by email or as prints in the regular mail. In some cases, you can make an appointment to talk to someone on staff about your specimen.
Are the collection data available online?
Yes, please follow this link.
Who can borrow specimens from the IZG collections?
Any qualified research scientist, including students, with an institutional affiliation is eligible to borrow specimens. Final approval of any loan is at the discretion of the Collection Managers and Curators. However, most eligible loan requests are approved.
Are the CAS IZG collections open to non-staff for study?
Yes, the collections are available for study by qualified researchers by appointment. Please contact the Collection Managers or Curators for details.
Where are the mineral/gem/fossil exhibits in the Academy?
The Academy's new building "breathes," and the temperature and humidity inside the display areas usually reflect the conditions outside. Because most natural history specimens cannot be displayed under these circumstances, special climate-controlled cases would need to be built for the main floor. This may happen in the future, as Academy exhibits mature and change.