Bollinger County Museum of Natural History
mike fix

Welcome to the Fossil Prep Lab!

The photo shows professor Mike Fix mapping the location of the bones that were found at the Chronister site. A 900-pound block, encased in a plaster jacket, was removed from the site and placed in the museums fossil prep lab where the clay matrix is being removed from the bones. So far, a number of vertebrae and a shoulder blade have been uncovered from the block. He is using a special, laser assisted mapping tool that was devised to map our finds. Very soon the bones will be removed and readied for exhibit.

The curator of the museum, Guy Darrough, carefully inspects the sediment removed from the bones of Hypsibema to look for other fossils. The sediment is rich in fossils, but the volume of the sediment is so great, that we had to invent a winnowing machine to sort out the heavy particles. A five-gallon bucket of sediment will break down to about a quarter-cup of fossil-bearing material. A small conveyor system feeds the fossil-bearing particles across the lens of a digital microscope, which is displayed on a monitor. This greatly speeds up the analysis process. So far, the teeth and bones of various fish, crocodiles and an amphibian have been found.

Special thanks go to crew member, Bill Teeters, who designed and built the winnowing machine, conveyor system, and many other devices that we have depended on at the dig site.

Guy Darrough

These peculiar-looking teeth are being cleaned in our prep lab and are thought to be from the herbivorous dinosaur, Hypsibema missouriense. Notice the serrations which line the outer edges of the teeth.

We invite you to explore our museum and watch as Missouri's past is uncovered bit by bit!

Hypsibema teeth


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