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.
Done that? Excellent. Back to the good old Niger sauropod then in this series on fossil preparation. Now that we’ve covered the general cleaning, prepping and repairing of the bones, it’s time for the final stage of the process- building a supportive structure for the specimen to rest on. This will ensure that the specimen can be carried around, or even researched, with minimal handling of the actual bone. How this is done, and what materials are involved, will depend on the weight and fragility of the specimen.
For light specimens, we have been making a simple base. The bottom layer will be a piece of strong card or Corex (a lightweight corrugated plastic), cut to size. Next we will affix a thin layer of plastazote, which will provide an acid free cushion for the bone, stuck down with a hot glue gun. The base should be strong enough to carry the bone on without sagging. Finally, a thicker layer of plastazote will be stuck down. This final layer will be cut into to accommodate the specimen, ensuring that the weight is distributed evenly, and no parts of the bone are left unsupported. If necessary, we’ll build up pieces of plastazote under bony projections, as seen in this picture.
For medium weight specimens, we follow the same procedure detailed above, but use a lightweight metal sheet as the base. This has to be cut to fit using a jigsaw.
That’s all well and good, you may be saying, but what about the really big bones? We’ve got sauropod thighbones to deal with. Those suckers are heavy! Card and sheet metal isn’t going to cut it. All will be explained in part 2…..
Kieran Miles wishes he’d paid more attention during Design Technology at school.