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Making Replicas of Fossils

All of the trace fossils you have seen on this web site are casts. That is, they are replicas of the original fossil. The casts were made for a touring exhibit on trace fossils.

Why Not Display the Original Fossil?

Palaeontologists have been making copies of fossils for a very long time and are very good at it.

Often, the original fossil is delicate so it's a good idea to have a copy. Sometimes, the fossil may be too large to collect from the field so we will make a copy right from the original rock outdoors.

Certain types of rocks are very heavy. We may want to make a lighter weight copy of the fossil, like we did for the traveling exhibit on trace fossils.

Many of the trace fossils you have seen on this web page belong to other museums. That's why we had to make copies of them. The other museums wanted to keep them, but they were willing to share them with us.

How'd Ya Do That?

The first step in making a duplicate fossil is to make what is called a mold. There are a few different ways of doing this.

Watch the museum crew as they paint liquid rubber (latex) directly onto a rock with a very special trace fossil on it (MPEG file size 992 kb; view transcript). The rock is from Big Tancook Island in Nova Scotia.

     
  Casting
More on casting!
Casting!
     
  Molding
More on molding!
Molding!
     
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