As a paleontology lab volunteer at the Natural History Museum of Utah, this was my task today: unjacketing, “excavating,” cleaning, and consolidationg what turned out to be the rib of a phytosaur (a kind of crocodile relative). A great day!
This morning I spied the pile of jackets on the cart. They’re from the Triassic formation at Ghost Ranch, New Mexico (what I mentally think of as “that Coelophysis place”). The rib jumped out at me first thing, and I desired it so. Lo and behold, my supervisor gives it to me as my task for the day. What luck!
As I opened the jacket, I realized that everything inside was crumbled to bits. As I probed further, I had the horrifying thought that the so-called rib was no longer identifiable (at least by me, anyway) and was somehow summarily crushed in transportation. After some calming from my supervisor (and his reminder that I was working bottom-in, so it would take a while before I would see anything), I hit pay dirt. (I feel as if I’ve been waiting a life time to say that!)
The pictures show me removing the matrix and the thin, black rib becoming exposed. Sorry for the not-so-good pictures, my fingers were covered in plaster, glue, or both, and honestly at the time I was far more interested in uncovering my specimen.
It’s looking good so far, but I’ve got plenty of work to go, especially since the rib is broken in probably 30 or more places so I’ll need to do some serious gluing.
Stay tuned next week!