Tools Used by Paleontologists

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Paleontology is the study of prehistoric life, and a paleontologist spends his career traveling to excavation areas where archaeologists have found fossilized dinosaur bones to study. Tools used by a paleontologist are designed specifically for these scientists to extricate intact fossils from the earth. These tools also allow the paleontologist to examine dinosaur bones without damaging them.

Pneumatic Air Scribe

  • To clean excess mud, dirt and other unwanted materials from a fossil that has been extricated from an excavation area, paleontologists use a pneumatic air scribe. This tool is usually about 8 inches long, weighs around 2 1/2 pounds and has an 8-inch hose connected to an air compressor. When the paleontologist turns the tool on, air is released from the tool's front nozzle and forces any mud, dirt and other material out from cracks without damaging the fossil. This allows scientists to examine the fossil in great detail.

PaleoBond

  • Since fossilized bones have a tendency to break easily, it is essential for a paleontologist to carry a bottle of PaleoBond glue as she goes from one excavation site to another. When a fossil or a dinosaur bone is cracked, the scientist can apply a little bit of this very strong blue substance to the crack and repair it without causing any discoloration to the fossil itself. Paleontologists also use PaleoBond as a way to put pieces of fossils together after they have broken apart due to centuries of exposure to air.

Diamond Saw

  • To cut excess material from dinosaur bones and fossils after they have been extracted from the excavation pit, the paleontologist may use a diamond saw. These saws can be small and portable, allowing a paleontologist to easily bring them to excavation areas so he can clean the bones and fossils on the spot. The diamond saw blade is much thinner than an average saw blade, reducing the possibility of damage to the bones or fossils.

Tile Nippers

  • With an average length of under 8 inches, tile nippers are an important tool for paleontologists because they allow the scientist to break up the stones that encase ancient dinosaur bones and fossilized plant life without damaging the fossils themselves. These tools look like an average bolt grip pair of pliers, but the tool's head includes a 2-inch straight jaw vise at the front, and the handles bring this vise down onto the rock bed very easily. When the paleontologist pushes the handles together, the straight jaws break up stone remnants, allowing the scientist to remove the fossil from its surrounding surface.

References

  • Photo Credit dinosaur scull image by Daria Miroshnikova from Fotolia.com
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