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Dinosaur Fossil JigsawsTypes of FossilsFinding Dinosaur FossilsDinosaur FossilsDinosaur Fossil LocationsToday's featured page: All About Me Worksheet



ZoomDinosaurs.com
DINOSAUR FOSSILS
First Dino Fossil Discoveries What are Fossils? How Fossils Form Types of Fossils Finding Fossils Dating Fossils Excavating Fossils Bony Jigsaw Puzzles Famous Fossil Hunters
Fossil Locations Worldwide
North American
Fossils
South American
Fossils
African
Fossils
Asian
Fossils
European
Fossils
Australian
Fossils
Antarctic
Fossils


Excavating Fossils

After being found, a fossil must be carefully freed from the rocky matrix that encased it for millions of years without damaging it. First the fossils should be labelled and photographed (while still encased in the rock). Its position should be carefully noted.

Most of the overlying rock (the overburden) is removed using large tools (like picks and shovels), but the 2-3 inches (5-8 cm) of rock closest to the fossil are removed with smaller hand tools (like trowels, hammers, whisks, and dental tools). The exposed fossil is photographed and labeled again. Frequently, only some of the overlying rock is removed at the dig site. The rest of the overburden can be removed later, in the lab.

Small fossils are easily excavated with small hand tools. Large fossils require more effort and bigger tools in order to expose the specimen; these tools include shovels, picks, jack-hammers, or even explosives.

Small and large fossils are excavated differently, but both have to be treated very carefully to avoid breaking them. Before removing a crumbling or fragile fossil, a quick-setting glue can be applied to it (with a brush or sprayer). Then the fossil can be removed from the surrounding rock.

The fossil must be packed very carefully to be moved to the lab. Small fossils can be packed in boxes or bags. Large fossils can be first wrapped in paper or burlap, with a layer of plaster applied (like setting a broken bone).

A good book to use is the Handbook of Fossil Preparation Techniques, edited by Bernhard Kummel and David Raup.

ZoomDinosaurs.com
DINOSAUR FOSSILS
First Dino Fossil Discoveries What are Fossils? How Fossils Form Types of Fossils Finding Fossils Dating Fossils Excavating Fossils Bony Jigsaw Puzzles Famous Fossil Hunters
Fossil Locations Worldwide
North American
Fossils
South American
Fossils
African
Fossils
Asian
Fossils
European
Fossils
Australian
Fossils
Antarctic
Fossils




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