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December 20, 2021

The fascinating world of fossils is in Malta – Thanks to Heritage At Heart!

There is certainly nothing more captivating and unique than a fossil from bygone years. The idea that you could be looking at a fragment of a creature or plant which lived on this Earth billions of years ago is mind-blowing. Fossils represent a fascinating part of ancient history that will never die.

The word fossil originates from the Latin fossilis, meaning 'dug up'. Fossils are, in fact, often associated with prehistoric digs in distant, exotic places around the world. Most people might not even entertain the idea of unearthing such a wonder in their lifetime. But what if we told you it is now possible to acquire a genuine fossil for your home – without even setting a foot outside your door?

Design & Decor met with Elaine Farrugia, the woman who founded Heritage At Heart – Malta's first ever certified fossil shop.

As soon as we asked Elaine the story behind her newly established venture, her eyes lit up as she recounted how she has always been fascinated by our Earth and the universe. As a young girl, the only thing she could do was read as much as she could about these topics, learning about nature and the creatures that roam the world. Through the years, however, she constantly longed for something more tangible than just reading.

Eventually, she realised that her older son, now aged six, was echoing the same interests, with his main focus being dinosaurs. And like her, he wished to bring his passion to life. Sadly, since the Maltese islands did not exist in the time of these prehistoric creatures, he began complaining about the inability to view a dinosaur fossil here in Malta, where museums only exhibit fossils found locally.

Since travel was restricted by Covid, Elaine began searching online, hoping to find sources abroad which would help create a fossil collection for her son. With her childhood passion rekindled by these online searches, Elaine realised she could help make these fossils accessible to people other than her son. Her love for the Earth’s heritage helped fuel this original idea of providing items with a story behind them. She soon found the ideal overseas supplier, contacts were made, and Heritage At Heart materialised.

The first fossil Elaine ever handled was a tooth from the gigantic Megalodon – and she was immediately captivated!

As she tried to understand this terrifying creature from the past, she told us she was lost in another world. We could easily understand how she had felt, as she passed round sample after sample of the fossils she had brought with her. We held fragments of dinosaur teeth and bones. We gazed speechless at the size of the tooth from the Megalodon and examined the various ammonites, staring in wonder at the formation of each one. We handled tree roots and petrified wood aged hundreds of millions of years old, feeling their weight in our hands.

Elaine told us each fossil is unique, which is why every single one she obtains is individually displayed on her website. We were, in fact, mesmerised by the singular qualities of each one. Our mind could barely grasp that we were handling nature’s products from all those years ago. How could a bone from a Sauropod, such as the gentle, long-necked Brachiosaurus, or a tooth from the beastly Spinosaurus be in our hands? How is it possible that an ammonite, a sea creature from the Jurassic age, is right here in front of our eyes?

And obviously, our next question was – how are fossils formed?

“Anything older than 18,000 years is classified as a fossil,” Elaine explained. “Fossilisation, however, is not as common as we may think. Most living organisms simply disappear forever when they die. The conditions for fossilisation have to be just right – the dead organism must remain stable and unmoving when it is buried in moist sediment which is mixed with debris and minerals. With time, the bony parts of the organism turn into a hard substance, which is why fossils often look and feel like stone.”

These fossils are normally discovered and dug up by palaeontologists who specialise in learning more about the Earth’s past through the study of these phenomena. The fossils are then professionally cleaned and repaired, if they are found in pieces.

“If you drop a fossil and it breaks, you cannot glue it back together yourself,” Elaine smiled. “The repairs need to be carried out by an expert. Unfortunately, none of these experts are based in Malta, which makes it especially important to handle these fossils with great care.”

All the fossils found at Heritage At Heart are authentic and fully certified.

In her search for suppliers, Elaine makes sure the ones she chooses meet all her required criteria. “The place where I procure the fossils must have a solid reputation worldwide, with qualified palaeontologists ready to analyse the fossils. I want to know I can trust them to provide me with the real deal. Most importantly, they must present hard copies of authorised certification that authenticates each and every fossil. In this way, I am able to set my clients’ minds at rest that what they are obtaining is a legitimate and genuine fossil.”

Her current source is based in the USA, although the fossils she offers at present are not found solely in that country. “Some have, indeed, originated from America, but I also have others which were dug up in England, France, Morocco, Madagascar, and Australia. I am constantly searching the internet for interesting fossils, so my next batch may come from somewhere else. By selecting only reliable suppliers – without exception – I am always able to guarantee the authenticity of the fossils at hand.”

One important point that Elaine brought up is that any fossil found anywhere on the Maltese islands must be handed over to the relevant authorities, in compliance with the local Cultural Heritage Act. In other countries, however, such as in the States, the 'finders keepers' rule applies, and the finder is free to keep or sell the fossil as they wish. This is why it is possible for people like Elaine to acquire these remarkable specimens.

If you too treasure our world's history, you must secure one or more of these fossils!

Heritage At Heart provides you with an inspiring piece of nature that has persevered far longer than you can even imagine, together with a signed International Certificate of Authenticity pertaining to that particular fossil, specifying its reference number and relevant details.

Furthermore, you will receive a display base engraved with the type of specimen, estimated age, and location of discovery; a floating frame for a 360° view of the fossil (with the exception of the wood fossils, which only include the engraved base); an information card describing the related species; and a care sheet with handling instructions.

"All the fossils you see on the website are in stock and immediately available," Elaine stated. "You will not be kept waiting for weeks for me to order them for you. Within two to three days, you will have the fossil delivered to your home, at no extra charge. The fossil, display mounts, and the documents come in a branded box, making this an elegant corporate gift, a beautiful present for a loved one – or even just as a treat for yourself!"

This educational piece of home décor is of great value – in every way!

“Apart from the high-quality package we provide with every purchase, fossils are, in themselves, an outstanding investment whose value will never diminish,” Elaine told us, earnestly. “They have, after all, already existed for millions of years, and, with proper care, they will retain their condition for many more. Fossils are, indeed, a legacy that can be passed down to countless generations.”

“When I look at my fossils, I feel inspired and uplifted. This is a piece of home décor which can educate us about our past, no matter how young or old we are. My wish is to increase awareness about the beauty of fossils and show people that there are alternative gifts apart from the usual jewellery and frames. Presenting such an original item to your loved ones not only reflects a love for our Earth’s heritage, but also symbolises the same perseverance that love itself strives for. This is definitely a gift which will endure till the end of time!”

"Say forever" with the amazing, one-of-a-kind fossils available at Heritage At Heart – and bring our Earth's incredible story to life in your home!

Get in touch with Elaine today!

+356 9964 9390

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