You don’t need to be a paleontologist or travel through remote canyons to find exquisite fossils. The teeth, shells, and bones of ancient animals could lurk in a creek, quarry, or on a beach near you. Once you find a good location—the map below shows a bunch of spots—you’ll need to separate fossils from surrounding soil. A mesh-lined letter tray works in a pinch, but the best option is to build your own sifter. We like this rig made from ¼-inch hardware cloth and 1-inch-by-2-inch planks. Wood floats, so your sieve won’t sink, and the wire can catch shark or ray teeth, small bones, and even ammonite casts. It works best in water, where erosion has done most of the hard work; unwanted sand, dirt, and pebbles will wash out of the bottom without spreading dust.