Question: I found a fossil on my property, can I keep it?
Answer: Yes. Fossils on private property belong to the property owner. There is no legal obligation to donate them to the government. The question, however, as to who is the property owner for fossils can be complicated if there has been a mineral reservation or grant that included fossils (and many do). In such case, the mineral reservation or grant would control.
Question: What are "invertebrate fossils"?
Answer: See the Glossary (under Resources). Invertebrate fossils are the remains of animals that did not have bones (a backbone) such as coral, crinoids, trilobites. Often times, applicable law will distinguish between vertebrate fossil collecting on one hand (usually prohibited on public property) and common plant and/or common invertebrate fossils on the other (often allowed on public property).
Question: What are "vertebrate fossils"?
Answer: See the Glossary (under Resources). Vertebrate fossils include dinosaurs, mammals, sharks and fish, or any animal with skeletal structure. On federal public lands, recreational rockhounders are prohibited from collecting vertebrate fossils as well as vertebrate trace fossils (e.g., tracks, coprolites, eggs, etc.).