FossiLab is back. The closing of the Fossil Halls last spring forced our exhibit fossil preparation lab behind the scenes, but a move to the 2nd floor of the Museum returns the lab to public view. A new exhibit, the Last American Dinosaurs, will be installed in the space next to FossiLab this fall, and, come late November, the lab once again will anchor an outstanding fossil exhibit.
With the move, FossiLab has undertaken some exciting new projects:
Volunteers are photographing the 20 thousand or so insects in our Green River Formation Fossil Collection. Most of the specimens are very small, so the camera is attached to a microscope. A monitor in the FossiLab window shows visitors the view through the microscope and the most recent photos taken.
Many more photos of Green River Formation insects can be found in our online photo archive.
Other volunteers are learning to dismantle and conserve skeletal mounts that are coming off exhibit as part of the Fossil Hall renovation. Dismantling skeletons is challenging. Some of the mounts were built a long time ago and, since mounting techniques have changed a lot over time, nearly every mount was constructed in a different way. Add in the problem that some of the bones are extremely fragile, and it can take some puzzling to figure out how to tease the mounts apart safely. Once the bones are free of the armature they are photographed, logged into our collections database, and placed in archival storage where they will be preserved for scientific study and, perhaps, remounting for a future exhibit.
This series of photos is from a recent training session in which volunteers began dismantling a skeleton of Orohippus pumilus, a relative of modern horses that lived in North America 50 million years ago. The fossil skeleton was collected in the 1950s and was displayed most recently in the "Mammals in the Limelight" section of the Fossil Halls.
We look forward to seeing you at FossiLab. Hours vary, but the lab is open most weekdays from 10 AM to about 4 PM, and during the early afternoon on many Saturdays and Sundays.