Saw

SUMMARY: Peter Fenton, technician at the Royal Ontario Museum, discusses how rock saws are used to cut down fossil-bearing rocks in the field. (1:10)

Palaeontologists using sledge hammers in field
DESCRIPTION: Palaeontologists using sledge hammers in field

"There are several different ways of actually collecting fossils, getting them out of the rock when you're in the field."

close-up view of hammer and chisel
DESCRIPTION: close-up view of hammer and chisel

"The easiest one, the simplest one, is using a hammer and chisel. Part of the problem with using a hammer and chisel is it can be a bit brutal on the fossil. It's hard to really control where the rock is going to break."

slab of rock, showing fossils
DESCRIPTION: slab of rock, showing fossils

"So if you've extracted a slab with a particularly beautiful fossil on it, you're not going to want to risk damaging the fossil."

workers with chisels
DESCRIPTION: workers with chisels

"In that case, rather than a hammer and chisel to get rid of the excess rock, what we use is a rock saw."

worker with rock saw
DESCRIPTION: worker with rock saw

"They'll either have a compound blade, which wears down quite quickly, or we usually use a blade that is impregnated with industrial diamonds"

close-up of blade cutting rock
DESCRIPTION: close-up of blade cutting rock

"It cuts through the rock quite cleanly. At the same time, it doesn't really damage the fossil."

fossil hunter uses saw to make small square of rock containing fossil
DESCRIPTION: fossil hunter uses saw to make small square of rock containing fossil

"It's clean in the way it cuts, and it doesn't rattle the rock around like whacking it with a hammer does. So that way we can extract the good quality fossil. At the same time, it helps us lighten the load."

© Royal Ontario Museum