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Hey everybody!

I realized I never made a thread for my internship at the Field Museum in Chicago this summer. I interned as a fossil preparator under Akiko Shinya in the McDonald’s Fossil Preparation Laboratory (that’s the “fish bowl” lab on the second floor right next to Evolving Planet with the big window). 

There were some amazing things being prepared in the lab - an Antarctic Lystrosaurus, lots of Dicynodonts, Green River fish (some massive Phareodus), Sauropod femurs and ribs, a massive slab containing several sturgeon and paddlefish - but I’m not sure if I am allowed to post pictures of them, so for the sake of confidentiality I won’t just in case. 

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This is the lab, and I always sat in the red chair, right up next to the window. One of my favorite parts of this internship was seeing all the little kids so excited about what we were doing in there and interacting with them. 

 

 

I was preparing a Priscacara serrata (specimen PF 16961) from the Green River formation of Wyoming, Eocene (~52 mya). 

 

All I used was a pin vise and an Amscope stereoscope. This fish also seemed to have slightly “exploded” from the pressure of fossilization as well, it’s jaw was crooked and head smashed, thought most fins seemed surprisingly well intact. 

 

The prep took 199.5 hours to complete, from May to August. I finished the prep on the final day of my internship, staying late after the museum had closed to the public and all the others in the lab had gone home. But it was far worth it, because "your name will forever be associated with this specimen." -Akiko Shinya

 

I took a picture at the end of every day and I made a time lapse with it to see the growth! The link is at the bottom of the post. 

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(I kept that floating scale in front of its mouth because I thought it was kind of funny that it looked like the fish was trying to eat it!)

 

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You can watch the time lapse Here

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Thanks for sharing your experience with us. Just shy of 200 hours. Wow! You did a great job on that fish!

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Brilliant sounds like you had a fantastic time and fish is stunning. Congratulations   :dinothumb:

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  200 hours seems like a heck of alot of hours for a fish prep for a serrata but I have to say,  you did a  really good job.  My only question is,  what is the size of this fish?  Would also love to see what else you prep in the future. 

 

RB

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Thank you all! I'm really really proud of it :wub:

 

45 minutes ago, RJB said:

  200 hours seems like a heck of alot of hours for a fish prep for a serrata but I have to say,  you did a  really good job.  My only question is,  what is the size of this fish?  Would also love to see what else you prep in the future. 

 

RB

There's a ruler in the full picture of it! The fish is about 8 inches itself, the whole slab is about 9 1/2 inches. :D

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Good job on the prep. 200 hours with a pin vise paid off! Man, that’s a long time on a fish but that’s part of the learning process. The biggest lesson I try to teach new preparators is working slowly. Looks like you learned that lesson well. It will repay you tenfold in the future on preps.

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That's a great looking fish, and a summer to remember, I'm sure. I'm sure the kids enjoyed peering through the window, learning how fossil preparation is done, and adding "paleontologist" to the prospective career list. Well done.

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I'd hate to have been the one working on the sturgeon jacket.   That thing is a bowl of spaghetti that will take decades.

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Cool, thanks for sharing! I have been to the Field and seen the lab many times, but I never seem to be there when folks are actually prepping. What a neat opportunity to learn skills and contribute to the collection at the museum. 

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On 9/13/2019 at 6:12 AM, Ptychodus04 said:

Good job on the prep. 200 hours with a pin vise paid off! Man, that’s a long time on a fish but that’s part of the learning process. The biggest lesson I try to teach new preparators is working slowly. Looks like you learned that lesson well. It will repay you tenfold in the future on preps.

Yeah it sure got tedious at times, but it really taught me what it takes to do a good prep! I’m really glad I was able to learn it alongside the masters. 

21 hours ago, Pagurus said:

That's a great looking fish, and a summer to remember, I'm sure. I'm sure the kids enjoyed peering through the window, learning how fossil preparation is done, and adding "paleontologist" to the prospective career list. Well done.

I remember looking through that exact window when I was a little kid, and man did it make me want to go into paleontology! And now here I am :)

14 hours ago, deutscheben said:

Cool, thanks for sharing! I have been to the Field and seen the lab many times, but I never seem to be there when folks are actually prepping. What a neat opportunity to learn skills and contribute to the collection at the museum. 

I know for certain they will be there from 9 to 5 on weekdays, just not during lunchtime! Hopefully you’ll be able to see them the next time you make it out to the Museum!

17 hours ago, Peat Burns said:

I'd hate to have been the one working on the sturgeon jacket.   That thing is a bowl of spaghetti that will take decades.

Yeah that jacket is ridiculous, she’s worked on it for far over 2000 hours. But she’s just about done actually! It’s amazing how many jumbled fish are in there. The patience she must have...

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Great job, I can't tell if the blue hose is for air conditioning but I assume central dust collection. What is the focus distance and power of the microscopes. I assume they have like mini fiber optic lighting? The black cable and it looks like spot lights which I have seen in pictures only. New LED lights have come a long ways.   

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3 hours ago, Bob Saunders said:

Great job, I can't tell if the blue hose is for air conditioning but I assume central dust collection. What is the focus distance and power of the microscopes. I assume they have like mini fiber optic lighting? The black cable and it looks like spot lights which I have seen in pictures only. New LED lights have come a long ways.   

Yeah, the blue hoses are for dust collection. We also used it while opening field jackets, especially when they contained fiberglass. I’m not well versed in microscopes, but here is a Link to the microscope I was using if you want to check it out. And yeah, I’m pretty sure they were fiber optic lighting, with those little swan neck lights. 

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Nice work on the fish.  When I train people in the lab, I always tell folks it is better to do a good job slowly than a bad job fastly.

 

The sturgeon/paddlefish jacket is amazing.  I got to see it a few years ago.   

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4 hours ago, jpc said:

Nice work on the fish.  When I train people in the lab, I always tell folks it is better to do a good job slowly than a bad job fastly.

 

The sturgeon/paddlefish jacket is amazing.  I got to see it a few years ago.   

I agree, much better to really take the time to make it nice! Nothing worse than a bad prep job on what could have been a beautiful specimen...

Yeah isn’t that paddlefish/sturgeon jacket great? The woman who works on it is so dedicated! (And just a great person overall too :))

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