How Do You Get a Fossil Out of Rock? Painstakingly

Fossils just aren’t found. They are made visible by the gentle and professional work of the scholars who work with them.

In this video, Karie Whitman shows the painstaking care that goes into removing the fossil from the surrounding rock. Whitman is a fossil preparator in the Division of Fossil Primates at the Duke Lemur Center. Her area of expertise is the careful removal of specimens from the surrounding rock. She works to uncover fossil specimens from the rock they are encased in, making sure they are sturdy enough to be studied by researchers. 

In this video, she reducing the rock around a 50 million year old primate skull collected by the Duke Lemur Center team in Wyoming last July. These grains kept it safe for a long while. Now it’s our turn.

Here's the final product:

fossil skull removed from the rock by fossil preparators.

Video by Matthew Borths, curator of Duke’s Division of Fossil Primates at the Lemur Center. Fossil Preparation by Karie Whitman