Preparing fossils

SUMMARY: Jean-Bernard Caron, Curator of invertebrate Palaeontology at the Royal Ontario Museum, demonstrates how Burgess Shale fossils are prepared in the lab. (1:06)

Caron holds a small fossil and show how it is partially embedded in the rock
DESCRIPTION: Caron holds a small fossil and show how it is partially embedded in the rock

"Here is a typical example of a Burgess Shale fossil, which was split in the field using small chisels. You have part and counterpart. Here you can see the specimen that is partially covered with sediment."

Moves to the microscope
DESCRIPTION: Moves to the microscope

"So what I'm going to do is prepare this specimen using a small engraving tool. It is a work that requires patience and skills. Here, I'm the only one who does preparations of Burgess Shale fossils."

Views of Caron at the microscope with close-ups of engraving tool preparing the fossil
DESCRIPTION: Views of Caron at the microscope with close-ups of engraving tool preparing the fossil

"I trained for several years and it's not very easy to prepare these specimens. You can destroy it very quickly. I have an idea of which species it is, so I have an idea of the morphology of the species I am dealing with, attempting the preparation. Obviously this becomes very difficult if I'm not able to identify what the bits that I see in the rocks are. That happens, for example, for new species."

Close-up of prepared fossil
DESCRIPTION: Close-up of prepared fossil

"So then I will have to work very slowly."

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