A iN The Laboratory

Encased in its plaster field jacket, the bone is taken to the laboratory where the plaster is cut off with a special saw. The technicians then get to work on the fossil, using small pneumatic drills to remove surplus rock.


The fossil is carefully cleaned up using a variety of tools. This technician is working on Tyrannosurus teeth with a vibrating needle, but other methods include blasting fossils with compressed air containing soda crystals.

Computer reconstruction enables paleontologists to show how dinosaurs like this Tyrannosaurus rex moved when they were alive, providing insights into how they may have behaved. This work has been the basis of several television programs depicting dinosaurs as living animals rather than fossils



Reconstructing a skeleton involves making exact replicas of all the fossil bones. The paleontologists also replace any that are missing, basing them on the fossils of related animals.

u dinosaur molds

Each fossil bone is covered with a thick layer of liquid rubber. When it has set, the rubber is peeled away in two halves and reinforced with cloth and plastic.

u preparing for casting

The outside of each rubber mold is stiffened with fiberglass. The inside is then painted with the liquid plastic that will form the surface of the replica bone.

making the cast

The molds are fitted together, and liquefied foam plastic is poured into the cavity. This forms the strong but lightweight core of each replica bone.

i. m u the replica bones

When the plastic has solidified, the molds are carefully eased away. The replica bones are cleaned, painted, and assembled on a strong metal framework.


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