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022

Amy Davidson

OLogy Series
ologist
card
022

Amy Davidson

OLogy Series
ologist

When fossils arrive at the Museum, they aren't usually beautiful bones ready for display. They are often buried in chunks of rock. Carefully removing the fossils without damaging them takes talent, special tools, and lots of patience. Luckily, Museum fossil preparator Amy Davidson has all that and more!

Just the Bones, Please!
Amy began her career studying sculpture, and then moved on to collecting skeletons. One of her first jobs for a museum was to remove the flesh from animal specimens that had died in zoos, washed up on the beach, or were killed on the road. The museum was gathering a collection of skeletons to study and only wanted the bones. To get rid of the flesh, Amy would carefully cut away the meat and then feed the remaining flesh on the bone to a colony of meat-eating beetles. As the clean skeletons emerged, Amy would see how beautiful the bones were and how they fit together. This experience helped Amy in her current job as a fossil preparator at the American Musem of Natural History. In order to uncover dinosaur bones, she must know how the dinosaur's bones once fit together. Dinosaur skeletons are not always very different from those of modern animals, but they are made of rock!

What kind of tools do preparators use to pick away rock from a fossil?

car mechanic tools

dentist tools

glass-blower tools

Are you right?

Correct!

Fossil preparator's tools resemble those of a dentist. There are ­lots of tiny picks and drills!

Amy Davidson
fossil preparator

Sometimes I freak myself out working under the microscope when I realize I'm working on an ear bone half the size of a pepper flake.

All fossil preparators must have a college degree in science.

Fact
or
Fiction
?

Fiction

Fossil preparators come from different backgrounds. Amy Davidson has an art degree with course work in paleontology. A passion for science is a must!

Hometown: Mill Valley, California
Position: Senior Principal Preparator, Division of Paleontology
Education: B.A., Oberlin College
Known for: excellent fossil preparation

Image credits: courtesy of AMNH; Amy Davidson: courtesy Discovery Channel Online.