Mechanical preparation of a small fossil fish to remove as much matrix as possible to ready it for Micro-CT scanning and research. Nigel Larkin April 2015

Condition of the specimen: This small fossil fish in matrix was about 10cm long (including the matrix) and wieghed 215 grams. The front portion needed to be Micro-CT scanned to examine features on the skull so as much matrix as possible had to be removed to ensure the best CT images could be obtained (the matrix can interfere with the scan, as well as physically be in the way of the beam used) without making the specimen so thin that it became vulnerable and would easily break. An attempt had been made to prepare it in the past but this had resulted in the specimen being broken at the front.

Above, the specimen before repair and preparation

Preparation and conservation: The broken piece was re-adhered to the main specimen with reversible conservation adhesive. Then small, fine, reciprocating pneumatic preparation needles were used to remove small areas of matrix at a time under good lights in a glovebox. The specimen was reduced to just 70 grams, a third of its original size and ended up being quite slim.

Above, the specimen after repair and preparation.

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