Darren Tanke’s Gorgosaurus preparation 14: until next year…

This is the Gorgosaurus preparation update for December 15-17, and 20-23. Progress continues unabated, but is visually hard to see as so little rock gets removed now. Some days less than a sugar cubes worth is removed. Much of the work now is stabilizing rock with glue and doing fine cleaning of the bone surfaces. The last of the back of the head is now uncovered and it looks like the skull will be 520 mm long give or take a couple millimetres. The skull preparation is essentially done now- only a few minor cleaning and fixups required. Much gluing of tiny cracks is being done.

Most preparators use big eyedroppers or medical-grade syringes to inject glue, but I find both too coarse to get the job done, so I developed my own handheld modified eyedropper system years ago. My old modified eyedropper was falling apart so I recently made another. I take a plastic eyedropper and snip the tip off so it can firmly carry a medical grade syringe needle tip. The tip of the needle is carefully ground off. This is done so one does not accidently inject themselves with glue or get stabbed. We have a wide variety of needle sizes (gauges), from tiny (diameter of fine hair) to large (pencil lead diameter). The needle is pressed against a crack or hole and the bulb of the eyedropper gently but firmly squeezed. One can see the glue actually move along the crack and adjoining cracks as it wicks along. This is very time consuming, but necessary work. This is usually done on surface bone, whereas the glue bottle dispenser concept shown in a previous update is more for internal bone and matrix stabilization.

Areas of harder rock are softened with tisse paper lumps soaked in water. These are placed upon problem areas and allowed to sit for 10 minutes or so. When removed, the rock has usually softened up enough so that it can be carefully scraped off.

This will be the last update this year, they will resume early next year. Happy Holidays Everyone!

And indeed happy holidays and all that jazz from me too. See you again in a few days, I have exam papers to mark.

All photos here and in the series are owned by Darren Tanke and the Royal Tyrrell Museum.

6 Responses to “Darren Tanke’s Gorgosaurus preparation 14: until next year…”


  1. 1 Mike Walley 25/12/2010 at 7:32 pm

    Great pics and a fascinating insight into how a a fossil can be stabilised. I have just received a copy of “New Perspectives… Ceratopsian Symposium”, and I am looking forward to learning a little more about the Ornithischian fauna of Late Cretaceous Alberta.

    Perhaps an update on the Theropod fauna of Alberta beyond the Dinosaur Provincial Park will be required soon.

  2. 2 Nick Gardner 26/12/2010 at 2:24 am

    Hi Mike,

    You might want to take a look at “Dinosaur Provincial Park: a spectacular ancient ecosystem revealed”. It was edited by Phil Currie and Eva Koppelhus.

  3. 3 Zach Miller 28/12/2010 at 1:51 am

    It’s coming along beautifully, Darren! Will you be excavating the entire skull, or just this one side?

  4. 4 Darren Tanke 28/12/2010 at 2:49 am

    The entire skull will come out of the rock, or as much rock will be removed as possible without endangering the specimen. After all the preparation is done on this side, the entire specimen will be moulded in latex rubber, then demoulded. I will then trench around the skull and put it into its own jacket. BUT, I won’t remove it. Rather, I’ll put a plastic sheet (a separating layer) on top of the skull jacket, then make a support jacket for the entire specimen, then flip it over. When the original field jacket is removed, we’ll see the skull in its own jacket which can then be lifted out on its own. The skull will be fully prepared then.


  1. 1 drip | david’s really interesting pages… Trackback on 11/02/2011 at 1:31 pm
  2. 2 Darren Tanke’s Gorgosaurus preparation: final roundup « Dave Hone's Archosaur Musings Trackback on 22/02/2011 at 9:00 am

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