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Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History Logo The Department of Paleobiology - The Life of a Vertebrate Fossil
Level 3 - Preparing the New Find - Tough Work
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Grinding away matrix that is adhering to a skull.

Preparing a fossil at the Museum means:

  • Gently removing the remaining matrix with specially designed tools until the bone is exposed.
  • Reattaching broken pieces.
  • Applying a consolidant to the bone to strengthen and preserve it.

Fred Grady, Department of Paleobiology volunteer, paints a consolidant on 45 million year old Brontothere bones from Kazakhstan. The consolidant is Butvar B76, a polyvinal buteral, which is a kind of plastic dissolved in acetone.

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