Monday, October 11, 2010

Mosasaur skin prep

Recently Dr. Johan Lindgren of the University of Lund, Sweden visited our lab to look at our mosasaur collection. He has just published a paper with colleagues on soft tissue preservation in the mosasaur Platecarpus from western Kansas, available here. I had noticed some non-descriptive"smears" around the skull of our Tylosaurus nepaeolicus specimen "Tracie" RMDRC 08-002 while preparing it, and thought it warranted further investigation. We removed the specimen temporarily from display and I brought it into the clean room for further preparation. This was important so that I could shut off the lights. Why on earth would I want to do that?
Simple: The phosphatized remains of mosasaur skin will glow under blacklight! They are much more visible than under natural light and it makes preparation easier.

Preparation was fairly difficult, but we may have discovered the first skin preserved from the head region of a Tylosaurus ever. I'm currently writing a paper on the preparation techniques involved, so stay tuned for updates soon!

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