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Triceratops in the badlands

In June of 2019, we discovered and excavated a partial Triceratops skull in the Hell Creek Formation of southwestern North Dakota. The skull, named Alice, was found inverted with the base of its left horn partially exposed above the ground. 

Over the course of a week of diligent excavation, Alice was meticulously stabilized with glue, plastered up and removed from a location she called home for over 65 million years.

In the coming months Fossil Excavators will begin the process of preparing the skull for display and research. This page will be updated as we progress towards bringing Alice to public exhibition.


Preparation Process of Alice

After several dig seasons Alice has been carefully unwrapped from her plaster field jacket and carefully prepared for research and display. The preparation process of a skull takes months because of the size of the fossil and the delicate techniques which are implemented. 

In order to fuller prepare the specimen, we must first remove the plaster jacket and the sediment, or matrix, which covers the bone. Once loose sediment is removed with hand tools, dental picks and Dremel brushes, the surface is microblasted to remove any sediment that is tightly adhered to the bone. The blaster uses a form of Armex industrial sodium bicarbonate as a medium, a regular sand blaster would destroy the fossil. 

Once an area on the bone is clear of sediment and shale, adhesives are applied to the cracks to stabilize the bones. Various adhesives are uses for different purposes, some are thin which soak into fragile cracked surfaces and others are viscous which provide structural stability between large pieces of bone. Once an open space has adhesives soaked into it, sculping resin is used to close off the space and complete the bone. This provides a visually complete specimen as well as a tremendous amount of strength to the structural integrity of the fossil. 

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