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Finding Fossils

Consistently locating fossils requires special
knowledge of geology and paleontology—and a
bit of luck! But bringing home the find may present
the biggest challenge to researchers. Fossils usually
lie in remote areas far from museums, universities,
and roads. Their large size makes them particularly
heavy, and the fragility brought on by their great age
requires that they be handled with extreme care.

Researchers frequently discover fossils by finding
a fragment of bone protruding from a cliff or bank.
After removing the covering earth—first with picks
and shovels, and then more carefully with dental
tools and brushes—sceintists may harden the fossil
bones with a chemical solution. A complete covering
of burlap and plaster bandages protects the fossil
from damage during shipment to the laboratory.

Detialed drawings, photographs, and documentation
accompany each step of the operation to help
reconstruct the fossil for study and exhibition.

[Picture captions]
Researches carefully encase dinosaur
bones in burlap and plaster before
transporting them to the laboratory.
The plaster cast protects the bones
from damage and keeps them arranged
as they were fond.

gently brush away
the soil around a
phytosaur bone.

As the badlands of the Tepees gradually erode and Triassic fossils are uncovered,
scientists carefully excavate fossil deposits.

Don't miss the rest of our virtual tour of Petrified Forest National Park in 1519 images.