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Small-sized fossil specimens are challenging regarding safety, storage and traceability of information. A recent collection of several hundred minute early mammalian teeth and jaws (most about 1mm) made impossible the standard practices of specimen numbering. A reliable association of the specimen and the collection number is the minimum required, however, a number of other data easily recoverable from the specimen/curating material is desirable. Geological provenance, locality, systematic and anatomical ID, collector, year, etc. is often included if possible. Use of the specimen is expected to be on the order of hundreds of years, manipulated by investigators, transported, and stored in collection museums together with millions of other specimens; mountings and labels must be resilient, reversible and stable. In our lab, we have developed new techniques to curate microfossils; the larger specimens (2-5 mm) are mounted with dental wax in the lid of inverted clear display boxes and the information duplicated in the lid carrying the specimen and the rest of the box cover. Hand written, printed labels and QR codes can be attached. Most specimens are much smaller, being preserved in ¼ dram vials (9x30mm), mounted on a cork via a shaped pin head/dental wax, and the vial acting as a cover. Printed labels include collection number and the systematic and geological precedence but not QR codes. Color-coding can be used to efficiently differentiate multiple localities in the compact collection. Wax allows easy demounting if needed and transparent boxes and vials facilitate handling and study without opening the containers.
fossil, paleontology, curation, preservation, excavation, dentition
Neuroscience and Neurobiology | Paleontology
Biven-Leslie, Zachary V and Rougier, Guillermo W., "Curation Techniques of Small-sized Natural History Specimens: A Collection of Microfossils." (2021). Undergraduate Arts and Research Showcase. 57.