A new craze is sweeping across the UK with children in their thousands taking up geology in a hunt for fossils.
"Fossils have always interested kids," said Larry Green, a palaeontologist with Cambridge University's Geology department. "It's pleasing to see them get so into it."
A new magazine with free fossils on the front cover and a collectors display case is now on sale, with help and advise for the young fossil hunter. It is flying off the shelves with Kids Magazines, the production company, barely able to keep up with demand.
"We've sold both initial runs," said magazine editor, Laurie Brown. "And we've had to increase our second edition run. It's fantastic."
Kids as young as four are collecting rocks all over the country and examining them for fossils, with trades and swaps going on in school yards from Cornwall to Northumberland.
"There's one lad at our Kevin's school," said Eleanor White, a mother, "he's got hundreds of rocks that he's trading with the kids in his school. Our Kevin is constantly coming home with new rocks. I just can't seem to stop him doing it. So far he's traded his dinner money, his bike and my mother for rocks. Not a one has had a fossil in it."
That child, who cannot be named for research reasons, has been asked to stop and return all of the items he'd traded, due to the rocks coming from his parent's rockery, which looks denuded of stones.
"We wondered where he was getting all these DS games from," said his mother, "turns out, he's been taking our rockery to school."
Even with scams like this, kids cannot get enough of fossil hunting.
"It's actually been quite productive," said Larry Green. "One child turned up an almost complete specimen of a stegosaurus previously unknown to science. Although this kind of find is rare. Another child found his great aunt buried in the back garden. Not a fossil, but interesting in its own right, especially to the local police who had been searching for her for a while now."
In recent weeks, clubs have been springing up to nurture this new found desire to pick up stones on beaches and in the street, with one Junior Fossil Hunters club in Cumbria organising regular trips to a local quarry, where the kids can extract stone to their hearts content. Any fossils that they find they can keep, whilst the waste rocks are sent off to become road surfaces.
Where the craze started, nobody is sure. But people like Green are hopeful that it will continue for a long time, and inspire the next generation of palaeontologists.
Most parents are hopeful it will end soon.
"I've got tonnes of rocks in my garden now," said one distraught parent. "Please make it stop!"