Pictured: the contents of ‘loose bones’ bag 1. Not shown: the same again from ‘loose bones’ bag 2….
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Not much activity on this blog but lots in the lab. We’ve been very busy….
The Niger Sauropod project is nearly at an end! We’ve fully prepared all the bones that were wrapped in plaster jackets, and have moved onto the ‘float bags’. ‘Float’ is the term given to the fossils which are found loose on the surface, rather than being buried in the rock. We had a wealth of float material to work through, but most of this is done now, with just two large bags remaining (simply labelled ‘bones’).
Continuing on where we left off last time, this post will attempt to cover how we make a protective support jacket for very large or heavy specimens.
For really weighty specimens, like our dinosaur’s limb bones, we create a sort of supportive shell for the bone from a substance called Epopast, an epoxy resin/glass fibre paste. Epopast is pretty nasty stuff so to mix up a batch we need to get kitted out in full PPE (personal protective equipment)- goggles, mask, lab coat, apron, gloves and gauntlets (arm guards).
Firstly, apologies for the lack of updates recently- I blame Christmas. Secondly, for those that don’t know, these blog posts are longer than they look! Click ‘read more’ for the full post.
The current volunteer fossil prep team (left to right, Matthew, Craig and Kieran) with sauropod limb bones. Photo by Mark Graham
Fragmented bone surface on a sauropod femur. Photo and labelling by Mark Graham.
First off, a big thanks to anyone who came along to Science Uncovered- it was a huge success, with over 10,000 visitors attending the event (including a lucky few who had the opportunity to go behind the scenes and visit us here in the Conservation Centre).
This Friday is Science Uncovered, the once-a-year special event where the Natural History Museum goes all out to give our visitors a really special night. This year will be the biggest so far with over 400 scientists taking part! There’ll be all sorts of talks, tours, shows and cocktails to enjoy, starting from 4 PM and finishing at midnight.
Just a quick note today to say that our sauropod will be featured on Blue Peter today! That’s right, the Niger Sauropod will finally get the fame it deserves. Blue Peter presenter and action woman Helen Skelton will be talking to our very own fossil preparator extraordinaire Mark Graham and NHM palaeontologist / dinosaur expert Paul Barret. She’ll also help remove the plaster jacket from one of the femurs, the two largest bones in the dinosaur’s skeleton. Don’t miss it!
Welcome back! Although we cater for all areas of the museum’s collection here at the Conservation Centre, today I’m going to be talking about dinosaurs again with another update on the Niger Sauropod Project.