We can use a variety of different tools to help us prep fossils. One great piece of equipment we use to remove large amounts of rock from around the fossils is called an air scribe. This device is essentially a pen-sized jackhammer. Below is a video of Gary using one of these air scribes to get through a rather large rock for the sake of a rather small (but important) fossil.
Using an air scribe takes some practice to get comfortable with. Once mastered, however, it makes prepping fossils a lot easier! It still can take many hours to get the prize out of the rock, however. Imagine how long it must have taken paleontologists to prep fossils before they had air scribes!
Once out of the rock, the fossils still need some attention before they are museum/publication ready. These tools are for more detailed work than an air scribe and take just as much patience to use properly. In the lab, we use everything from dental tools, toothbrushes, paintbrushes, and of course, Q-tips. Many times, unfortunately, the fossil will break while being cleaned. This is pretty common and happens to the best of us. Luckily we have plenty of adhesives in the lab to put them back together. Sometimes, unfortunately, the particularly small fossils can splinter apart to the point of no repair. The best one can do in this situation is just chalk it up to a learning experience and be even more careful on the next one! Check out this video of me as I clean off some of these tiny, yet awesome, fossils from the Triassic!
Hope you enjoyed a taste of fossil prepping! On a slightly different note, I was given the opportunity to run the Bergen County Zoo's first annual fossil day! It's no Smithsonian, but I did my best to make the education center as full of fossil education as possible. This temporary exhibit featured real fossils, fossil replicas, a (small) portion of my dinosaur
|Some of those Redondasaurus teeth in the case were in the video you just watched.|
|Same goes for some of those Typothorax bits.|