Certain techniques for hunting of dinosaur fossils have been changed for the sake of the on-field palaeontologists over time. Most scientists and other people associated with science have adapted the undertaking of advanced technology. But whilst it’s about digging for dinosaur fossil and bones process are slower and much humble. Moreover, the fossils hunters are typically skilled with occasional power tool, brushes and shovels.
Where to look for a dinosaur fossil?
As per the Professor Paul Barnett the dinosaur researcher of a museum has participated in many digging missions. He concludes that palaeontologists never start digging anywhere of the proposed site. Instead, knowledge possesses an integral role to play to select the right spot to hunt for dinosaur fossils.
On visiting the site, the rocks have been observed very carefully to determine its age. Accordingly, assumption is made regarding the presence of fossils and digging is commenced. These rocks are specifically belonged to the Mesozoic Era, which refers to the Cretaceous, Jurrasic and Triassic periods.
The geological maps are observed to check the places of probable appearance of these types of rocks for increasing the chance to find a fossil or dinosaur bone more easily. Topographic maps are too useful for hunting fossils. It depicts every human-made structure like roads and vertical depth for indicating the amount of site access.
How fossils actually look like?
Prior to start digging, palaeontologists always look for the indication of the presence of dinosaur fossils there in the soil. Luck must be quite favourable for this. Most of the times due to consistent change in weather and pressure fossils get eroded and it gets poked out of the surface gives you a clear indication of its presence.
Hence, they have to devote much time for strolling within the spot looking very carefully at the ground. Moreover, if traces of isolated bone fragments can be found it clearly indicates that fossils are present there somewhere close to the spot. A keen eye and hand lens is perfect companion to distinguish within a fossil and rock.
Another fast as well as relevant way is there for differentiating between stone and bone from the field yet it’s quite unpleasant at all. In certain cases bone and rock appear much similar but as per the expert fossil possesses a beautiful honeycomb-like microscopic structure with living tissues of bone.
On the other hand, rocks don’t have any such patterns and thus by licking differentiation can be made easily. Bones have tiny tubes which will absorb moisture from the tongue. Thus, if the piece sticks to the tongue then it is bone otherwise it is a rock.
Many other methods have been tried by the scientists like ground-penetrating radar for locating the underground bones. As they are not so effective it is concluded that the traditional approach of dinosaur hunting is still considered as best.
Dig for the dinosaurs
After a spot is selected on the basis of certain factors that determine the presence of fossils and dinosaurs bone there, much digging is required to reach to it. Rarely, it is possible to find a full bone of dinosaur. Moreover, it’s almost impossible to discover an entire skeleton system of the dinosaur.
The spots which are really overburden (overlying of a number of rocks) heavy machineries are used for removing them. By this way, the palaeontologists can get the access to the fossils which are underneath in the ground. Even, early hunters of fossils make use of the dynamite for blasting the rocks for getting an easy access to the fossils and bones.
As close as he palaeontologists reach they opt to use small tools like utility knives, brushes and trowels for unearthing the fossils and bones very carefully without causing any damage to them. Though it sounds so easy but it’s really daunting as it consumes a few days or weeks for complete unearthing of the bones and fossils from the ground without any structural damage.
Excavate the bones of dinosaurs
Dinosaur bones are actually very gentle and fragile. Although they appear much bigger but can’t support their respective weight during unearthing. As a result, it experiences several fractures within them. It can get broken down during the process of excavation as well. There is nothing to worry about as it is quite common.
During unearthing it is impossible to know where it is started and where it is ended into the ground. At the time of digging if accidentally any bone or fossil can be found, a little bit nicking is quite common. The nicked off piece is kept carefully and then palaeontologists take out it from there very carefully.
On complete removal of the bone from the ground gluing is done to put the nicked off piece to its own position again to make bone as it is! Field jackets are being used for protecting the bones from getting damaged during transportation. This process involves the use of burlap and Plaster of Paris for creating a cast surrounding the bone.
It is much identical to the cast used by the doctors for stabilising a broken leg or arm. Pulling is never done to make the bones come out of the soil as it is inclined to break down easily. It is dug in its embedded way with some other rocks for ensuring the safest transportation.
At last the original fossil and bones are separated with much effort at the specific lab. There are fossil preparators in the lab for removing the jacket of plaster and surrounded rocks. Then the fractures will be foxed for stabilising the bone for further study.
Understand the early environment well
While excavating a spot the fossilised bones of dinosaurs aren’t the only thing can be found. It also helps in unveiling other scientific specimens and valuable information like the evidences of invertebrates and early mammals along with trace fossils like trackways or coprolites.
Usually, digging is not like devoting time to unearth the dinosaurs from the ground. Palaeontologists consume much time for studying the rocks for excavating the fossils of other creatures as well. Certain modern techniques have been used by them including screen washing for digging the fossils.
The sacks of sediments are being washed by the water for tracing the tiniest fossils consist within them. Apart from teeth of dinosaurs and mammals, vertebrae of small creatures like snakes and lizards can be found as well. Fossils of plants along with dinosaurs leave a great impression of the environment of our early planet. Even the drastic change in the environment over time can be assumed at the same time. This environmental change is helpful for understanding the consequences in which it is affecting the planet at present. You can perform the research on your own by purchasing the fossils. Certain museums offer dinosaur fossil for sale to utilise them by the people for further study.