As some of you may know, we are currently working on the construction of a plaque mounted Xiphactinus, nicknamed "Leroy", that was collected in the mid 1990s. "Leroy" is a big Xiphactinus at 15 feet, however not quite as large as "Mildred", the 18 foot long monster that we collected in the summer of 2008.
Making a plaque mount is a very time and labor intensive process, espescially when the bones are jumbled when in the ground. Each individual element must be removed and prepared, and of course prepared on the correct side. The right side of the skull was the best and prepared side, which drove our decision to have the right side of the entire fish displayed.
I'll post photos of or progress as we move forward. This is what the project looked like nearly a month ago when the major preparation was finished, and we decided to start laying out the fossil bones. Curator doing the classic TPI field pose (pointing "There it is") for scale. The size of the project is deceiving, the black rectangle is a 16 by 5 foot area of steel and 3/4" plywood. The chicken wire mesh is for strength of the material used to embed the bones. You can probably see that there are literally hundreds of individual bones (spines, fins and ribs)missing. The simple reason is that in this early stage, we don't want too much stuff floating around. You will see these elements get put in later stages of the process.