Sunday, 29 July 2012

Preparing to dig some fossil fuel!

Fossils literally fuel the science of palaeontology. This beautifully preserved resource allows us to touch deep into the past lives of plants and animals. The way we excavate, prepare, conserve and curate fossils is changing. As we begin to undertand more about the importance of the chemical ghosts lurking in fossils (see my earlier posts on our synchrotron-based imaging work). We have realised that by handling, gluing and conserving fossils, we might inadvertently be damaging important chemical sentences that tell stories of past biology, preservation and environments.

This year, I shall mainly be wearing rubber in the field...of the latex glove variety! My plastic sample bags will be replaced with glass vials and autoclaved aluminium foil (when chemical samples are sought). While this is impractical for whole skeletons, there is always sufficient material to collect as smaller samples.

A major drawback of my new field 'wardrobe'...latex gloves in 100+ Fahrenheit will not be much fun!

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