Other tools of the paleontology trade

Object of the Month: 07/2017

What is it?:

Crocodile skull
Crocodile skullCourtesy SMM

Cast of crocodile skull


Origin:

Morrison Formation, Wyoming ~150 million years ago


Age: Found 1995
Made by:

SMM Paleontology Department


What is it made of?:

Plaster


Accession #: P2003.20.1c

Skull scans: Gray areas in these CT scans of the skull show where there were open areas inside the skull.
Skull scans: Gray areas in these CT scans of the skull show where there were open areas inside the skull.Courtesy SMM
There’s a lot more to paleontology than simply digging fossils out of the rock and cleaning them off in a lab. This crocodile skull is a classic example. What you see here is a cast of a fossil. It’s an exact plaster replica of the actual skull that can be used for display and teaching while the fossil can be used for research.

Fossils are also photographed and often imaged with CT scanners. The photographs Skull drawings: An artist's drawing of the skull helps pull out the finer details.
Skull drawings: An artist's drawing of the skull helps pull out the finer details.Courtesy SMM
can be passed along to paleontology artists who can do drawings of the fine details that might not be visible on the actual fossil like the accompanying drawing. The CT scans can show structures inside the skull that might not be visible on the outer surface.

The full mount of Goniopholis can be seen on Level 3 in the Dinosaurs and Fossils gallery.