- Integrated Pest Management (IPM) and Palaeontology. Adrian Doyle.
- Improving consolidant effectiveness: A capillary based method for evaluating and monitoring consolidant concentration. Tim J. Fedak.
- A new preparation tool - the Split-V. James Fletcher.
- Curation history and mineralisation of a highly degraded pyrite fossil collection. Emily Hodgkinson.
- The dismantling and cleaning of the Sedgwick Museums Iguanodon. Sarah Finney and Leslie Noè.
- The history and preparation of the enigmatic dinosaur Hylaeosaurus armatus BMNH R 3375. Sandra Chapman and David Gray.
- Mineralisation of highly degraded pyrite fossil collection. Susan Martin
Sandra Chapman and David Gray
Dr Gideon Mantell discovered Hylaeosaurus in 1832 while visiting a quarry in the Tilgate Forest in Sussex, southern England. The anterior part of the animal was preserved in several blocks blasted by the quarry-men. Mantell cemented the blocks together and removed the hard calcareous grit surrounding the bones to display the skeleton in the single block that we see in the literature. The anterior part of the skeleton, with perhaps a fragment of the skull, also includes a series of angular plates and dermal scales. Mantell published his description in 1833 and named the 'dinosaur' Hylaeosaurus armatus.
Hylaeosaurus together with Iguanodon and Megalosaurus formed Richard Owen's new Order Dinosauria published in 1842. This specimen came to the British Museum as part of the Mantell Collection purchased in 1838. Of the three first named dinosaurs Hylaeosaurus has yet to be fully described although clearly an armoured dinosaur it's family relationships cannot be truly resolved until this the type specimen has been prepared.
The fossilised remains have been carefully exposed using a variety of highly skilled preparation techniques and tools. A combination of chemical (acid) and mechanical (dental mallet, air-abrasive, etc.) methods were employed on the rock where appropriate.
The block thought to contain a skull fragment was removed first and the associated cervical vertebrae were also removed in order to reveal any attached armour hidden on the under surface of the block. The preparation of this specimen will continue until all the bones have been removed together with the invertebrates and plants contained in the original slab.
Palaeontology Conservation Unit, Department of Palaeontology, The Natural
The words Integrated Pest Management (or 1PM) are becoming more widely known in the discipline of conservation but how does it relate to Palaeontology?
Palaeontology collections, packaging material and the furniture itself can harbour insect and rodent pests which can lie dormant for a long time in wait for an opportunity to find a food source in a more tasty part of the museum environment such as entomological, botanical and zoological collections.
This presentation discusses several aspects of the problem, world leading strategies that are being adopted at the NHM and suggests simple ways in which all people working on collections can play a part in protecting our heritage.
Tim J. Fedak
The use of consolidants to stabilize and strengthen fragile fossil material plays an important role in the preparation and conservation of palaeontological specimens. Polymers such as polyvinyl acetate, dissolved in acetone or ethanol solvents, are widely used in consolidants because of their versatility and long-term stability. The concentration of dissolved polymer can be high (35% by weight), producing a thick solution useful as archival glue, or low ; <5%, providing a thin solution that can penetrate dense cortical bone. Additionally, there is often an optimal concentration that provides maximum penetration of consolidant into the object being conserved. The optimal concentration can be within a narrow range and vary from specimen to specimen, therefore determining and maintaining the effective concentration for a specimen is important. A method is presented that uses the capillary action of fluids to quantify and monitor the polymer concentrations of consolidant working solutions. The procedure is quick, inexpensive, and requires no specialized equipment. Regular assessment of working solution concentrations can increase quality and consistency of artefact conservation.
Funding was generously provided from The Jurassic Foundation, the Nova Scotia Museum Research Grant and the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada.
A New Preparation tool - the Split-V
Palaeontology Conservation Unit, Department of Palaeontology, The Natural
History Museum, Cromwell Road, London SW7 5BD, U.K.
The mechanical preparation of certain types of palaeontological material using ultrasonic tools, primarily used for industrial applications, has been commonplace for over 30 years and early developments produced favourable results. Recent developments in technology have allowed for a wider range of tools that are becoming cheaper and more readily available.
The Split - V is a fine bladed ultrasonic tool, designed for removing excess solder from printed circuit boards, that can be used to remove rock and sediments in delicate preparation situations. As against other tools currently available on the market, the Split - V transmits very low vibration, cuts quickly, is very accurate and has an interchangeable handpiece that can accept a variety of blades for different purposes.
This paper is part of a major review of this tool for other applications including recent (i.e. non fossilised) zoological specimens.
Emily Hodgkinson, Sue Martin and Mike Howe
A collection of Westphalian fossils was found in a catastrophically degraded state due to pyrite decay. Of the specimens, 86% had undergone total destruction and had been replaced by large volumes of oxidation products. The oxidation products were identified by SEM and XRD as romerite, coquimbite, rare elemental sulphur and possible jarosite. They are likely to have formed at <60% RH. Elemental sulphur (indicating extremely acidic, oxygen-poor conditions) has not previously been recorded as a pyrite decay product in museum specimens.
The specimens, originally stored for 40 years with no environmental controls, were transferred to more stable storage conditions twenty years ago. The damage appears to have occurred since the specimens were transferred. Recent environmental monitoring in this location has recorded a well-buffered RH of 40%, implying that under certain circumstances, catastrophic damage may occur to pyrite specimens even at low RH.
In addition to other, known factors controlling pyrite decay, a brief comparative study of Westphalian collections suggests that fossil genus (influencing pyrite microstructure) may also be significant; this will be examined in future work.
Leslie Noé1 and Sarah Finney2
1 The Sedgwick Museum, Department of Earth Sciences, The University of
2 The A.G. Brighton Conservation Unit, The Sedgwick Museum, Department of
Earth Sciences, The University of Cambridge, Madingley Rise, Cambridge CB3
A five-metre cast of the dinosaur lguanodon bernissartensis greets you as you enter the Sedgwick Museum. Presented by King Leopold II of Belgian to the University of Cambridge in 1896, it has stood in its present location for most of the last 100 years. Ongoing redevelopment of the Museum necessitated the removal of the specimen in order for new flooring to be laid, and this has given us a unique opportunity to dismantle, conserve, repaint and remount the skeleton, the first time in more than 30 years that this has been attempted.
Having dismantled the skeleton and transported it to the laboratory, the individual elements and groups of bones had to be assessed prior to cleaning. Remedial work was undertaken where the mount or previous handling had damaged the plaster. Following extensive consultation a dark brown, close to the colour of the original bones, was selected and several different types of paints assessed. Eventually a technique was developed mixing five different acrylic paints to produce a 'life-like' three-dimensional effect. However this technique proved time consuming and extremely labour intensive, pushing the limits of the window of opportunity for completing the project. This contribution will explore some of the highs and lows of undertaking this ambitious project, whilst keeping the Museum open as long as possible, the public informed, and the media interested whilst at the same time, working within the constraints of what was best for a historically important and iconic specimen.