Bretton Carter – Earth Science, Fossil’s and the LGBTQA community.
May 1, 2020
Bretton Carter is a gay geologist, fossil hunter and adventurer who spends most of his time traveling the country/world in search of new fossils to add to his collection, and help others build their own! His main mission is to inspire people within the greater LGBTQA community to become more active in Earth Sciences and more curious about our prehistoric planet. He mainly focus’s on educational content, but I also sells some of his fossil finds on his website to help continue fund his travels and future projects/collaborations.
Interview with Bretton.
1.) How did you get into Paleontology?
A.) To make a long story short, it all started with the first Pokémon games. I found the Fossil Pokémon in particular extremely interesting and it sort of awakened a lifelong curiosity of prehistoric times in the real world.
2.) What are your ideal goals, like, what do you want to accomplish in this field?
A.) I really want to bring visibility to the greater LGBTQA+ community in the sciences. All too often I hear things like “I didn’t know gays were into Earth Sciences”, which may not be outright homophobic, but I do think it says something about the image of gay men that the general public still clings to, as if to say we’re all a certain way.
3.) What are some of your favorite fossils?
A.) While my most popular fossils will always be the fossil Megalodon teeth on my website, I am an Ichnologist by profession. Ichnology is the study of trace fossils, such as footprints, and other impressions. So dinosaur footprints will always remain my favorite of fossil types.
4.) Where are some places you’ve been? Any places in particular that stand out?
A.) I’ve been all over the US, and most of Europe and Asia. The American Midwest, particularly Wyoming, Colorado, and Utah are extremely rich in fossil diversity, and I love heading out that way. The Hell Creek Formation of Montana is excellent for Dinosaur bones, and the Connecticut River Valley of New England will always be a go-to for dinosaur footprints from the early Jurassic. But my favorite places to go in the world would be England’s Jurassic Coast, and the Northeast Highlands of Scotland. These areas are also Jurassic in Age, and were completely underwater 200-150 Million Years ago, so marine invertebrates and even the fossil remains of Marine Reptiles (such as Icthyosaurs and Plesiosaurs) are not totally uncommon. I try to go every year.
5.) What would recommend to wannabe fossil hunters starting out?
A.) Do your research. Fossils only preserved if certain conditions were met. It’s extremely important to understand basic geology before you start breaking open rocks. Those rocks could be igneous in nature, which wouldn’t preserve fossils anyway.
6.) How do you support your travels, projects and collaborations?
A.) When I find important fossil specimens, I donate them to be further studied. However, some of the more common fossils which are not deemed as scientifically significant, I sell on my website. While I think all fossils are scientifically, this just means the fossil is either common, or has already been extensively studied. So I offer these fossils for sale on my website, and I also sell some merch. I have a very strong fan base that is constantly growing on Instagram, who regularly buy from my website. Everything I make from my site directly supports my travels, content creation, and fossil hunting adventures.
On Instagram, I’m known for my “educational thirst traps”. I reel potential followers in with the thirst trap, and keep my fans with the educational content. It’s been an interesting journey.