Field of Science

Phytosaur Skull Preparation III

It's been awhile since any work was done on the phytosaur skull we've been following the preparation on. This is mainly because we have been without a preparator for the last few months. Now we have two new preparators and my interns are getting in on the action as well.


This photo is of my intern Chuck working on the left side of the skull with an air-scribe. These are essentially "mini-jackhammers" that use compressed air to vibrate a sharp stylus on the tip of the tool. This vibration slowly removes the hard rock matrix from the bone. The bone is purple, sandstone matrix is gray, and the white is the field jacket of air conditioning foam soaked in plaster and hardened around the skull and matrix in the field to provide safe transport back to the preparation lab. This field jacket will be slowly cut away and removed as preparation continues and will eventually be replaced by a similarly made cradle for permanent and safe storage.

Here is what has been exposed so far. The entire rear left portion of the skull is very well preserved and the elements are freeing nicely from the sandstone matrix. Anterior (forward) is to the left. Abbreviations are as follows: f, frontal; ltf, lateral temporal fenestra; na, nasal; orb, orbit; po, postorbital; q, quadrate; qj, quadratojugal; and sq, squamosal.

We'll keep following as preparation continues. We are pretty excited about this skull as it appears to be relatively pristine.

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