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INTRODUCTION

Many fossil vertebrate specimens are at risk of deterioration over the course of time. Among the causes of this common problem are the deterioration of old consolidants and adhesives, inadequate support for the weight of the specimen, ambient building vibrations, and the handling of the bones by staff  and researchers. (Figure 1) Though there  are  few  papers written on this subject, the  many  versions  of  support  systems  found in research

Figure 1: Failure of an ancient plaster bond on a sauropod tibia lying on inadequate support in the

               collections.

collections can be studied and further improved upon. For instance, those that incorporate wood or burlap do not meet current safety standards because of the combustibility of their components. Nonarchival foams will off-gas and break down into a pile of dust. Lining a jacket or cradle with latex rubber as a protective surface may have seemed like a good idea at the time, but the specimen will eventually adhere to rubber, causing problems when the jacket is removed. Also, the latex rubber eventually breaks down, off-gasses and turns brittle. Some plaster jackets are lined with plastic or foil, which do not provide an adequate cushion on which the specimen rests. Some are loose fitting and do not offer 100% support, or are made of soft plaster that easily breaks and leaves white streaks on shelf if it is moved. The list goes on.

 

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