Today part of our team quarried a butte yielding turtle remains from three different specimens. In this photo, Walter is using a meter stick to determine the exact position of one of the fossil turtles. I mark the location of the specimen while he looks through a level and moves up or down on the meter stick to establish its exact height. He will use this information to create a site map. Site maps are useful because they address questions of taphonony, or how fossils form, decay and drift over time. Site maps are also helpful if an individual wants to return to the site in the future.
In addition, we excavated one of the turtles and created a jacket around the exposed bone to keep it safe until we return to the museum. A jacket made of plaster acts much like a cast that supports a broken bone and prevents movement and destabilization. Back at the museum, Peabody preparators will open the jacket and continue removing the fossils in a controlled environment away from damaging elements. Alana Gishlick and Walter prepare the specimen by covering the exposed fossil bone with damp tissue to protect the material from the abrasive plaster used to create the jacket.