In The Dinosaur Bone Prep Lab

I was busy trying to absorb all of the information being patiently explained and feeling slightly inadequate because I knew so little about what was in the bone prep lab at Two Medicine Dinosaur Center.

This photo shows one of the Center’s interns working on a bone that had been “field jacketed” which is what is done to a specimen to get it out of the dig site and into the lab without disturbing it.

Plaster of Paris is put around the bone and after it sets up it can be moved. I’ve watched this being done at a dig site before and there is no neat and tidy way to complete the task. Plaster of Paris is messy and you are a long ways from quantities of running water! There is also a small mountain of paperwork that is done to chart locations and details about the bone.

The bone in this photo was fairly large but obviously, some are very small and intricate.

The prep lab could at times be confused with a dentist’s office – similar tools are used.

Toothbrushes are the primary tools used to clean dinosaur bones. You dip the brush in water and carefully brush the bone, wiping away any moisture so it doesn’t get absorbed into the bone. Other dental instruments resembling metal picks are also used to clean out crevices in the bones. It is all very detailed and slow-going work.

As bones were being cleaned in the lab, another paleo instructor explained significant differences between humans and dinosaurs – ask about hip sockets if you get the chance! It really is fascinating!

A young boy (11 years old) and his mother were also working in the prep lab. I was almost afraid to ask questions because the 11 year old seemed years ahead of me in knowledge about dinosaurs. He was from Chicago and this dino experience was his birthday present – pretty neat idea. He was absorbing paleo details as I was stumbling over the names of the dinosaurs…I have a long way to go to catch up to this future paleontologist!

It was an interesting an educational morning.


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