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Take a picture of the fossil. Use something for scale (like a dollar bill, water bottle, or hand) if possible. Taking pictures from multiple angles may help our paleontologists identify what kind of fossil it is.
Chisels and rock hammers are used to get at fossils embedded in sandstone or mudstone. These are some of the most common tools used by a paleontologist because sandstone and mudstone can often be as hard as asphalt.
Walkie-talkies are also a valuable tool for paleontologist digs. More often than not, these digs are in remote locations, where cell service may be spotty; walkie-talkies allow the paleontology team to stay in consistent contact at all times.
When possible and/or appropriate, vendors and sources are given. This is done solely to provide examples and does not imply endorsement. In order to safely use this equipment and tools it is important that the lab have the correct infrastructure. Access information on the Fossil Preparation Lab here.
Many tools for the preparation of large material are air-powered (pneumatic). These require an air compressor to operate. The necessary compressor size is dependent on the air specifications of the tools and how many will be running at once. A basic compressor that will allow the use of two pneumatic tools at one time produces at least 10 CFM at 90-100 PSI with an ON pressure switch not below 110 PSI (for example, pressure range between 110 and 145 PSI). The larger the tank the less often the compressor will need to run, if the tank is too small the machine will run continuously and will wear out faster. These machines are quite noisy. It is possible to locate the compressor in an uninhabited room and connect it to the work area with air hoses (e.g., here). For more information on choosing a compressor click here.A number of other accessories and pieces of equipment are often necessary to attach the required tools to your compressor and airline. A typical setup will include the following (in order):
Depending on the setup air hoses may be necessary to connect tools from the compressor to the work area. Couplings and/or reducers may be necessary for secure attachments. N.B. brass pipe is more expensive than black pipe but it will not rust and send corrosion particles into expensive air tools (e.g., here)
All air systems require a basic pressure regulator and gauge in order to keep the pressure at the recommended level (90-110 PSIG for most tools n.b. the air pedal may require lower pressure than this). e.g. here
These small filters protect the expensive pneumatic tools connected to the airline from water condensation, dirt and rust particles that form in the compressor tank and air pipes. In-line filters screw into the air hose at one end and the quick-release coupler at the other. When installing the filters ensure that it is being placed with the air flow direction arrow in the right way. Filters should be cleaned and/or replaced as necessary (e.g. here).
Airscribe tips can be sharpened on a bench grinder, or with a diamond wheel using a rotary flexible shaft tool. The tips can be cleaned by swishing in ethanol (after removal O-rings) and wiping. O-rings should be replaced when worn. Do not use solvents on air scribes. It is important to keep the internal moving parts of your tools lubricated with a high quality tool oil. This is best accomplished manually by dropping oil directly into the tool and/or into the other end of the hose to be carried into the tool by the air.
Rotary tools are used less often than scribe tools for preparation of specimens but tiny dental burs or larger diamond burs can be used to delicately remove material too brittle or hard, for example hematitic matrices, to be prepared with a scribe. A rotary tool can also be useful in the prep lab for sharpening pin vises, trimming jackets, sectioning, sediment sample preparation and other destructive sampling techniques. The handpiece is a hand-held fixture that transfers power from a motor to the accessory tool such as a bur, drill bit, or mandrel. Flexible Shaft type handpieces connect to a shaft in a protective sheath that is connected to the motor. Power travels down from the motor through the flexible shaft and into the handpiece. The handpiece uses the power to create a rotary action for the installed bur or other accessory. Depending on the make and model, the tools can be suspended or table-top mounted and may have the option of a foot pedal for operation if desired. The two tool brands most commonly used are:
Splitting hammers are wonderful for use on sedimentary rocks. They are the hammer of choice of most paleontologists. The beauty of these is that the chisel can be used to split along bedding plains, while you still have the hammer to break rocks against the bedding.
Fossils are the remains of animals, plants, and other ancient life that have been preserved in rock layers, or sediment. Fossils can include things such as leaves, skin, feathers, hair, footprints, and, most commonly, hard material such as wood, shells, teeth, and bones. Even poop can be fossilized! Many kinds of fossils are rare, and studying them can help us understand how the world looked tens of thousands or even millions of years before our time. Scientists who study fossils are known as paleontologists.
The team has found a fossil, dug it up, and recorded the data. Now what Once a fossil has been carefully excavated, it needs to be protected. Most fossils are delicate, so to transport them, especially larger ones, paleontologists use a method called plaster jacketing to protect them. First, they wrap the fossil in soft material such as paper towels, toilet paper, or aluminum foil to cover it. Then they wrap the covered fossil in strips of burlap that have been soaked in liquid plaster. This method is like using a cast on broken bones. After the plaster hardens, it acts as a shield. When the fossil has been safely transported and is ready to be studied or put on display at a place like Carnegie Museum, the paleontologist can gently cut away the plaster without damaging the fossil inside.
Fossils are the evidence that paleontologists use to learn about life in the past. Fossils form only under very special conditions. Most animals and plants that die do not become fossils!
This seminal publication was a major advancement in unraveling the complex stratigraphy of the hydrocarbon basins in California. Kleinpell's focus was benthic foraminiferal biostratigraphy. Benthic foraminifera were the most conspicuous microfossils in well samples of marine deposits and their application as a correlation tool in the California \"oil patch\" was still in its infancy when Kleinpell began working on his dissertation in 1931. He used these fossils to develop a biostratigraphic framework for the California Miocene that served as the major reference for most micropaleontologists working on the West Coast for many years. The Miocene section was of particularly interest to the oil industry because it consisted predominantly of the Monterey Shale, a geographically extensive source-and-reservoir rock unit. Kleinpell's work was strongly influenced by fieldwork with his older brother William (an oil company geologist), his fellow Stanford student Hollis Hedberg, whose name later became synonymous with American stratigraphic principles, and biostratigraphic methods of the 19th Century German geologist Albert Oppel, who developed a Jurassic ammonite zonation for Europe. After completing his dissertation, Kleinpell applied the principles set forth in his dissertation to his consulting work in the oil industry with considerable success. He became widely recognized as the state's leading expert on foraminifera for correlation.
Imperfections of the California benthic foraminiferal composite scheme were becoming increasingly evident as micropaleontologists often had difficulty applying both the taxonomic and zonal concepts of its authors. Each stage was described from its type locality in one depositional basin, so interbasinal correlations were often problematic. Beginning in the early 1970s, more accurate planktic biostratigraphies, specifically those of calcareous nannoplankton and diatoms, revealed that Kleinpell's stages were plagued by time transgressions and overlaps. It also became evident that they could not be used to correlate two different depositional environments, which supported Natland's long held conviction that all of the benthic stages were based on paleoenvironmental changes that varied in time and space. Nevertheless, applications of the benthic foraminiferal framework for California led to the recovery of billions of barrels of oil and its stage names are engraved in the regional geologic vernacular.
Phleger and Parker (1951) was a major advancement in the study of living foraminifera that fundamentally set the ecology and environmental/bathymetric zonation standard in the Gulf of Mexico. This work also established a foundation for paleowater-depth biofacies currently used by biostratigraphers in the Gulf of Mexico and in other basins worldwide. Of course, information from papers published since 1951 and studies done internally by oil company paleontologists active in the Gulf of Mexico and world-wide has been used to refine this work for regional application. But, Phleger and Parker (1951) is the gold standard upon which these subsequent works were constructed.
The Bandy and Arnal (1960) paper has been one of the most influential contributions to California micropaleontology. Not just did it lay the groundwork for their later studies Bandy and Chierici (1966), Bandy and Arnal (1969), and Arnal (1976), it inspired others (e.g., Ingle, 1967, 1980; Lagoe and MacDougall, 1986; Finger et al., 1990; Olson, 1990) to adopt and further investigate the micropaleontologic criteria they recognized as useful tools in paleoenvironmental analysis. 59ce067264