|Curator shadow selfie while digging in Kansas recently|
A poorly collected turtle specimen from the chalk was being shown around looking for a buyer, While the collection techniques caused some damage to the fossil, it was plain to see a fairly complete tiny Protostegid was encased in the slabs of yellow rock.
|So, this is how we got it. Clearly not how we would collect a specimen.|
Most importantly, almost all of the skull was there, which is really nice. We immediately acquired the specimen and prepared the parts. Quickly it became evident we had a older subadult specimen of the relatively rare taxon Chelosphargis advena, an 84 million year old relative of the much larger Protostega and Archelon.
|The parts after prep|
|Skull partway through prep|
|Cast skull copies getting cut and shaped to take out distortion|
Distortion is taken out of the plastic and missing parts are either fabricated from similar ones from this animal, scanned in and resized from other specimens, or in rare cases done the old way with sculpting from reference material.
|Carapace getting parts added and completed|
The restored parts are then molded again in units so that we can make our final copy and offer it to museums and the general public as a highly detailed cast skeletal mount, perfect for display anywhere. The entire project only takes a few weeks, but the result is pretty phenomenal!