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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 - Extra Care
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A mammoth's lower jaws sits in a form-fitting, plaster support, with padding between the plaster and the specimen. When stored, the specimen also has a form-fitting cover, removed to show the specimen.

Some specimens are so fragile they need custom-made, form-fitting, removable padded jackets. Part of the jacket can be removed, while the fossil rests in the other part. The jacket:

  • Gives a specimen extra support.
  • Lessens how much the specimen is handled.
  • Makes the specimen easy to study from all sides, depending on which part of the jacket is removed.

Here you see Steve putting the jacket back on the specimen. Special metal holders are plastered into the jacket to make it easier to handle.

Sometimes we also have to add extra padding to our storage boxes to protect our specimens from breaking apart over time. We need to take special care of our fossils so that scientists and visitors can enjoy them for many years into the future. This is why it is important to support the museum in the care of its collections.

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