• An overlooked contributor to palaeontology—the preparator Richard Hall (b. 1839) and his work on an armoured dinosaur and a giant sea dragon

      Graham, M; Radley, Jonathan; Lomax, Dean; Brewer, Pip (Geological Curator, 2020-11-12)
      The work of Richard Hall, a fossil preparator at the British Museum (Natural History) in the late 19th century, has been largely unrecorded. It included the excavation, preparation and restoration of two important specimens: the dinosaur Polacanthus foxii and the ichthyosaur Temnodontosaurus platyodon. The painstaking reconstruction of the dorsal shield of Polacanthus took seven years to complete and enabled a supplemental note redescribing the specimen to be published in 1887. The significance of the discovery in 1898 of the Temnodontosaurus to the town of Stockton in Warwickshire was such that it featured in an article in Nature. It has entered the local folklore and remains celebrated on the town’s road signage and features as the logo of Stockton Primary School.
    • Preparing detailed morphological features of fossil brittle stars (Ophiuroidea, Echinodermata) for scanning electron microscopy using a combination of mechanical preparation techniques.

      Graham, M; Ewin, Timothy; Brewer, P (Geological Curators Group, 2020-01-27)
      In order to facilitate detailed SEM analysis of recently available, undescribed fossil ophiuroid material from the Aptian, Lower Cretaceous, Atherfield Clay Formation of the Isle of Wight, Hampshire, UK a combination of careful mechanical preparation techniques was employed to great effect. Specimens were initially exposed using standard air abrasive techniques, but the final few millimetres of matrix were removed using pins. To get individual arm pieces exceptionally clear of matrix, they were removed from the blocks using a mini pedestalling technique and then further cleaned using an ultrasonic pen. This combination of techniques fully exposed all the elements required for full taxonomic study without causing severe damage to the plate surfaces and greatly improved the overall aesthetic of the specimens. These techniques could be more widely applied in fossil preparation.