Preparators Resources

Caenagnathid theropod metatarsals, photo credit: Thomas Holtz

Preparators Resources

Fossil preparation is a vital part of research and education.  This is a resource for those concerned with fossil preparation, collection cares and management, field techniques, and conservation.

Fossil preparator Erin Fitzgerald uses a pin vise to prepare a fossilized sturgeon from Montana at the Field Museum, Chicago (photo by A. Shinya).

Fossil preparator Erin Fitzgerald uses a pin vise to prepare a fossilized sturgeon from Montana at the Field Museum, Chicago (photo by A. Shinya).

Defining the Professional Vertebrate Fossil Preparator: Essential Competencies

Supported by the 2011 Society of Vertebrate Paleontology Preparator’s Grant, this document was prepared by a group of professional preparators 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: here. Follow the instructions and press the “Subscribe” button.

Bibliography of Fossil Preparation and Collection Care

The Preparators’ Committee has put together a list of references on fossil preparation and collection care. Click here to download the Excel file.

Categories you will see in this file are:

  • General reference
  • Adhesives, consolidants, fill materials
  • Preparation
  • Acid preparation, chemical techniques
  • Conservation and preservation
  • Collecting and field techniques
  • Molding and casting
  • Museology [Collections, Storage, Documentation, Environmental Control, Shipping, and Handling]
  • Exhibits, mounting, reconstructions
  • CT scans, SEMS, thin sectioning
  • Taphonomy, diagenesis
  • Pyrite, salts, mineral problems, radioactivity
  • Health and safety
  • Miscellaneous

Currently there are 642 entries in this file.  More references will be added and the file will be updated periodically.

Preparators’ Session at the Annual Meeting

Preparators’ Session at SVP annual meeting allows preparators to present new and innovative techniques, case studies, basic-technique reviews, etc., ranging from field and lab techniques to specimen curation, molding, casting, exhibition and lab design. Abstracts from recent annual meetings are available below.

2021 Preparators’ Networking Session
2020 Preparators’ Networking Session

The Preparators’ Committee encourages authors of the presentations to make their presentations available online after the meetings. The PDF files are listed in the Preparators’ PDFs section. Please consider making your presentation(s) available online.

Hix Preparator’s Grant

Click the image to see videos on demonstration for making 'cavity mounts' by Alan Zdinak on Vimeo (photo by A. Zdinak).

Click the image to see videos on demonstration for making ‘cavity mounts’ by Alan Zdinak on Vimeo (photo by A. Zdinak).

SVP is honored to receive generous support from The Hix family to support preparator’s grant.  The Marvin and Beth Hix Preparator’s Grant is intended to further the field of Vertebrate Paleontology through the advancement of preparation.  Details of the grant application process are available in the SVP award section.

In 2014, Alan Zdinak received the Hix preparator’s grant to produce preparation demonstration videos. Two videos are posted online (the link below will take you to Vimeo site).

Preparators’ PDFs

A variety of PDFs for preparators are listed in the Preparators’ PDFs section. Contributions are made by SVP members. View and download Preparators’ session and poster presentation from the past annual meetings, supplemental information, how-to guides, Materials & Methods FAQs, and other resources.

You can submit your past presentation(s) anytime. Please consider making your presentation(s) available online.

Preparators’ Links

The Society for the Preservation of Natural History Collections [SPNHC] is an international society whose mission is to improve the preservation, conservation and management of natural history collections to ensure their continuing value to society.

The Association for Materials & Methods in Paleontology is a non-profit organization of persons interested in the field of paleontological collections care and methodology.  Their mission is to advance paleontological research through education and advocacy for improved ethics, standards, and practices in field, laboratory, and analytical methods.