McDonald’s Fossil Prep Lab

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Peek behind the scenes to see Museum staff at work, carefully chipping away stone to reveal nature’s treasures for scientific research. This working lab is fully equipped with tables that hold 2,000-pound rocks, microscopes, mini-jackhammers, mini-circular saws, and mini-sandblasters that shoot baking soda (strong enough to whittle away rock, soft enough to not damage precious fossils). A special exhaust system removes the resulting dust from the air.

At the Fossil Prep Lab and in the surrounding gallery, you can:

  • Discover how scientists in the field remove chunks of earth that contain fossils and transport them back to the lab.
  •  Watch fossil preparators at work and see what it takes to extract the remnants of ancient life from the stone matrix that has trapped them for millions of years.
  •  See Sue’s gastralia, a group of fossil bones so rare and unusual that scientists aren’t sure how they fit onto Sue’s skeleton. Among the most fragile of T. rex bones, they are most often incomplete, badly damaged, or missing altogether from fossil finds.

Further exploration

In Our Research Collection

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