February 27, 2008

This is how we do it

Posted by: Rebecca Durkin

Q: How does a fossilized Tyrannosaurus rex premaxilla get from this point:

to this point?

A: With hours and hours of careful work done by fossil preparators:

Most vertebrate fossils are found enclosed in solid rock, with just a little bit of bone exposed. While it can take days to carefully collect a fossil in the field, it can often take weeks, months, or years to uncover enough of the fossil back in the lab so that it can be studied or exhibited!

At this year’s Dino Day event on Sat., March 1, fossil preparator Bruce Crowley (pictured above) will be up in the galleries working on the T. rex bone live in front of visitors. You can watch him up close as he uses miniature jackhammers, sand blasters and chisels to remove the enclosing rock and expose the fossil. It’s a fascinating process and one that rarely gets the spotlight in the glamorous world of fossil hunting. Don’t be afraid to ask him about his work – he doesn’t bite!

More on the fossil…

The premaxilla was put through a CAT Scan to produce this neat all-around view (the white parts are plaster):

Join us at Dino Day for a glimpse at this hunk of T. rex (actual fossil portion highlighted in brown below) and lots more dino and fossil goodness.

- Rebecca


Top: Burke paleontologists uncovered the T. rex fossil in Wyoming, 2007. Photo by Christian Sidor.
Middle: Example of a T. rex premaxilla fossil, National Museum of Nature and Science, Japan. Photo by Christian Sidor.
Bottom: Bruce Crowley prepares a brontothere fossil bone. Photo by Rebecca Durkin.