Dinosaur Bone Preparation

The Hanson Ranch Research Station Project

The preparation of a fossil for curation begins in the field, with the discovery of an exposed bone, or the uncovering of a specimen in a fossil quarry. Often this is the easiest part, especially in the dinosaur-rich sediments of the Upper Cretaceous Lance Formation

Photos © 1999 L. Spencer

If the bone is suitable for field preparation, the exposed surface of the bone is cleaned of debris and sediment and stabilized with one of a number of structural preservatives such as Glyptol or Butvar or the newer formulations such as Paleobond, a type of cyanacrylate adhesive.

Photos © 1999 L.Spencer

After preliminary preparation and stabilization in the field, the bone is pedistaled by undercutting to remove as much matrix as possible, then covered by tissue paper (toilet tissue is often used) and aluminum foil, and cast in a plaster jacket on the exposed surface.

Photos © 1999 L.Spencer
The specimen is then undercut completely, and flipped over, and the exposed matrix is also jacketed in plaster to maintain the fossil as stable as possible until it can be returned to the laboratory for the final work of preparation and curation.

Photos © 1999 L.Spencer

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