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Preparator's Resources


Fossil prepartion is a vital part of research and education.  This is a resource for those concerned with the collection, preparation and conservation of vertebrate fossils and the care and management of collections.

preparator at work


Defining the Professional Vertebrate Fossil Preparator: Essential Competencies (PDF document)

Supported by the 2011 Society of Vertebrate Paleontology Preparator’s Grant, this document was prepared by a group of professional prepartors to identify the competencies that are fundamental to the definition of the qualified professional preparator. 

PREPLIST: E-mail discussion list focusing on field and laboratory techniques in vertebrate paleontology.

This E-mail list is open for anyone who is interested in technical insights.  It is devoted to the exchange information, questions, opinions, etc. about preparation of vertebrate fossils. No subject, related to preparation is off-limits.
  Debate is encouraged for honing our knowledge and thinking skills, for truth-seeking, and for clarifying our perspectives. However, flames or personal attacks will not be tolerated.
  Commercial advertising on the list is not permitted.
To protect our list members, please realize that their posts to this list should not be considered public. If you wish to re-post a message to another forum (e.g., another mailing list, a usenet newsgroup, etc.), or to another person, you should get permission of the author. We also think that private E-mail carries a presumption of confidentiality; it is therefore a violation of trust to post it publicly without permission.

To join the preplist, visit:
  Follow the instructions and press the “Subscribe” button.

Preparators' Session at the annual meeting
The Preparators' Session at the annual meeting allows preparators to present new and innovative techniques, case studies, basic-technique reveiws, etc., ranging from field and lab techniques to specimen curation, molding, casting, exhibition and lab design. 

To ALL authors of papers and posters:
Please consider making your presentation(s) available online (

2015 Preparators' Session
Thursday morning, October 15, 2015 
Hyatt Regency Dallas, Landmark D
Moderators: Ronald Tykoski and William Simpson

8:00 Observations on prospecting for fossils in expanding clays
        Matthew E. Smith and William G. Parker, Petrified Forest National Park, Petrified Forest, AZ, United States; Adam. D. Marsh, University of Texas at Austin, Austin, TX, United States of America

8:15 Consolidation of wet Amazonian specimens using Primal/Phoplex WS 24: field and laboratory applications
        Ana M. Balcarcel, American Museum of Natural History, New York, NY, United States of America, 10024

8:30 Excavation and collection of a nine-ton field jacket containing fossils of numerous Iguanodont and Utahraptor dinosaurs from the Early Cretaceous Yellow Cat Member of the Cedar Mountain Formation in eastern Utah
        Phillip Policelli, Utah Friends of Paleontology, Salt Lake City, UT, United States of America, 84117; Donald De Blieux, James Kirkland, and Scott Madsen, Utah Geological Survey, Salt Lake City, UT, United States of America; Dale Gray, Utah Friends of Paleontology, Vernal, UT, United States of America; James Cross, Corss Marine Projects, American Fork, UT, United States of America

8:45 The rigging techniques implemented for the de-installation of three challenging plaque mounts at the Smithsonian Institution National Museum of Natural History
        Matt Fair and Peter J. May, Research Casting International, Trenton, ON, Canada, K8V 5C8; Steve J. Jabo, Sminthsonian Institution National Museum of Natural History, Washington, DC, United States of America; Amelia S May, Research Casting International, Trenton, ON, Canada
9:00 Comparison of quantitative assessment methods for polymer consolidant penetration on rock and fossil substrates
        Verne Lee, Ana Balcarcel, American Museum of Natural History, New York, NY, United States of America, 10025; Abagael R. West, Columbia University, New York, NY, United States of America

9:15 Design and use of a large adjustable tent for doing air abrasive work on large dinosaur specimens
        Jean-Pierre Cavigelli, Tate Geological Museum, Casper College, Casper, WY, United States of America, 82601
9:30 Comparison of nested sieves, traditional screen boxed, and paint sieves for the recovery of microvertebrate fossils
        Haviv Avrahami and Andrew B. Heckert, Appalachian State University, Boone, NC, United States of America; Larry Martin, Fossil Source, Tucumcari, NM, United States of America
9:45 Preparation of desiccated ivory: case study of Mammut americanum
        Robert Salazar and Santa Barbara City College, Santa Barbara, CA, United States of America, 93109; Michele Maybee, University of California Berkeley, Berkeley, CA, United States of America
10:15 Bringing a concrete dinosaur skeleton back to life
          Carrie L. Herbel and Nathan Pollaehne, Utah State University Eastern Prehistoric Museum, Price, UT, United States of America, 84501

10:30 Virtual Aquilops: digitally reconstructing a tiny ceratopsian
          Kyle L. Davies and Garrett R. Stowe, SNOMNH, Norman, OK, United States of America, 73072

10:45 Relatively inexpensive method to produce good quality photogrammetric models of vertebrate microfossils in the 1-2mm size range
          Ian D. Browne, Oklahoma State University Center for Health Sciences, Tulsa, OK, United States of America, 74107

11:00 Getting 2D X-ray systems to yield 3D images via cone beam computed tomography
          Rudyard W. Sadleir, Saint Xavier University, Chicago, IL, United States of America, 60655; Akiko Shinya, The Field Museum, Chicago, IL United States of America

11:15 Digital to physical: considerations for fabrication of paleontological replicas from digital files
          Tyler Keillor, Lauren Conroy, and Paul Sareno, University of Chicago, Chicago, IL, United States of America, 60637

11:45 Multi-part storage jacket for large vertebrate fossils
          Vicky L. Yarborough and Marilyn Fox,  Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History, New Haven, CT, United States of America, 06511

12:00 The Badlands National Park fossil preparation lab: building relationships with positive outcomes
          Rachel C. Benton, Ellen N. Starck, Phillip J. Varela, and Levi D. Moxness, Badlands National Park, Interior, SD, United States of America 57750

Preparators' session related posters
Thursday, October 15, 2015
Hyatt Recency Dallas, Landmark Circle

LC1 Making a permanent base for a thin fossil using epoxy
       Jennifer Cavin, John Day Fossil Beds National Monument, Kiberly, OR, United States of America, 97848-9701

LC2 Armatures old and new for vertebrate fossil mounts in the fossil halls of the National Museum of Natural History
       Michelle Pinsdorf, Steve Jabo, Peter Kroehler, Matthew T. Miller, Deborah E. Wagner, Alan Zdinak, and Aaron Giterman, Smithsonian Institution National Museum of Natural History, Washington D. C., DC, United States of America

LC3 Designing a holistic internship for undergraduate students in collections care
       Venessa R. Rhue, Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, Los Angeles, CA, United States of America, 90039

LC4 Restoring a restored Triceratops ‘? brevicornus’ skull from the Lance Formation, Wyoming, USA
       Dylan Bastiaans, Utrecht University, Utrecht, Netherlands; Martijin D. Guliker, Naturalis Biodiveristy Center, Leiden, Netherlands; Daniel L. Brinkman, Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History, New Haven, CT, United States of America; Anne S. Schulp, Naturalis Biodiversity Center, Leiden, Netherlands

LC5 Plastered: an examination of unorthodox jacketing materials
       Tylor A. Birthisel, Natural History Museum of Utah, Salt lake city, UT, United States of America, 84108


Consider visiting the SPNHC website to see what The Society for the Preservation of Natural History Collections is doing.


Past Preparators' Sessions

Materials & Methods FAQs

Technical Papers

Hix's Preparator's Grant

Preparators' PDFs