SUMMARY: Peter Fenton, technician at the Royal Ontario Museum, demonstrates how fossils from the Burgess Shale are stored and catalogued at the Royal Ontario Museum so they can easily be found for paleontological research. (1:44)

fossil cabinets
DESCRIPTION: fossil cabinets

"One of the most important things when it comes to storing is storing fossils in a way that you can find them again. We have over a hundred …"

handling Burgess Shale fossils in cabinet drawer
DESCRIPTION: handling Burgess Shale fossils in cabinet drawer

"I think it's over a hundred thousand catalogued specimens. Now some of those may be numerous ones on one big rock, but if they're in this room somewhere and you can't find them, they're not going to do you any good. We store our specimens first by major collection locality."

close-up of fossil
DESCRIPTION: close-up of fossil

"When we bring it in we unpack it, we clean it up, we do any repair work on it, glue pieces back together again, we might prepare it, and by preparing"

cleaning fossil in lab
DESCRIPTION: cleaning fossil in lab

"I mean removing any overlying rock or matrix that might cover very important bits or pieces you might want to see. So anyways, it'll come in here."

Fenton displays a Burgess Shale fossil
DESCRIPTION: Fenton displays a Burgess Shale fossil

"In this case this one specimen is 75-5006. So that means it was collected in 1975, which was our inaugural season out in the Burgess Shale, and it's the 5006th specimen that was catalogued."

overhead shot of fossils in drawer
DESCRIPTION: overhead shot of fossils in drawer

"So everybody gets stored all in numerical order, which makes it relatively easy to find, but far more important, easy to put back."

Fenton talking to camera
DESCRIPTION: Fenton talking to camera

"You can think of a collections room like this as a library, but rather than books or journals, we have fossils. And in libraries you always have the cart. Once you're finished reading your book, you put it back on the cart, because woe betide the person who tries to put it back on the shelf. The librarian will give you a slapping. It's the same with us, we want to make sure everything goes back correctly so we know exactly where it's from."

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