The Rocky Mountain Dinosaur Resource Center has its very own Paleontology Laboratory! Visitors can peer through the glass and see our paleo technicians and scientists working on the latest discovery – fresh from the field.
The paleo lab consists of various work areas:
– Preparation: This is where we we take the rocks (or jackets) from the field and open them up using various tool to remove the rock and expose the fossils. This is a very slow process and can continue for several months for a single dinosaur.
– Restoration: Once the fossils are removed from the rock, they can be quite fragile to handle. We use very strong glues and fill in some gaps in the fossils where erosional forces opened up cracks.
– Molding and Cast: We make a 2 part mold using silicone, the inside of which is hollow (the hollow part is the shape of a single bone). Then we pour in liquid plastic, let it harden and taadaaa…..we have a perfect copy of the original fossil. The originals go into storage and are catalogued.
– Assembly: All the parts are slowly put together around a steel structure (for strength), and when completed, very little steel will be shown.
– Finishing Touches: Once assembled, the skeleton is painted to look like the original fossils.
Ok, maybe this sounds easy but the entire process could take 6 months to 3 years to complete a skeleton and have it in the museum exhibit hall. Visitors can view each of the processes as we build skeletons for museums around the world!