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Thread: Fossil Project

  1. #1 Fossil Project 
    Time Lord zinjanthropos's Avatar
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    Decided to move it here from Chat Box. Today 3rd day.

    edit: summary....found fossil many years ago on south shore of Lake Huron. Figured I’d try to remove it from the rock it’s encased in. Heard vinegar would work so I ask in Chat Box if anybody could advise. Members chipped in and seemed interested so I started this thread. I’m not a fossil hunter and have never tried anything like this before.

    So far I’ve only been placing one end of fossil in the vinegar. Today I submerged one half of it in fresh vinegar. This section contains most of the fossil. I scraped more soft material from the surface. Noticed a white film appear on the end that was submerged once exposed to air, as if it’s seeping out from the fossil.

    The stem has some nice striations along its length that I hope aren’t lost but I did notice a little deterioration of fossil in one spot. I’m wondering if fossil is porous and if that’s even possible. As I mentioned, the fossil looks a lot like a bone when viewed from either end. Anyway I’m going to keep on trying and hopefully learn something. It’s slow and patience is required....lots of vinegar too


    Last edited by zinjanthropos; January 8th, 2021 at 09:39 PM.
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  3. #2  
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    Painfully slow process. Also out of vinegar so on hold until get more. A little more exposed each day. The striations/ridges along the length still ok and there’s also what looks like a groove that runs directly across fossil. Was whatever this is jointed? Can see a distinct border now where fossil meets stone, almost feel like I could slip something thin under it and pry some of it off. Not easy however. Starting to think there’s more than limestone here but a couple smaller impression fossils have appeared. One a shell and the other some small critter with ridges on it but only about half inch in diameter. Will try to take a snapshot of fossil soon as I figure out how


    Last edited by zinjanthropos; January 8th, 2021 at 04:20 PM.
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  4. #3  
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    Quote Originally Posted by zinjanthropos View Post
    Painfully slow process. Also out of vinegar so on hold until get more. A little more exposed each day. The striations/ridges along the length still ok and there’s also what looks like a groove that runs directly across fossil. Whatever this is was jointed. Can a see a distinct border now where fossil meets stone, almost feel like I could slip something thin under it and pry some of it off. Not easy however. Starting to think there’s more than limestone here but a couple smaller impression fossils have appeared. One a shell and the other some small critter with ridges on it but only about half inch in diameter. Will try to take a snapshot of fossil soon as I figure out how
    Sounds interesting. Why not post us a photo when enough is exposed?

    Seems as though vinegar is doing the trick and not eroding the fossil too badly. I seem to recall that sometimes the fossilisation process replaces calcareous minerals with siliceous ones, which might account for why it is standing up the vinegar treatment.
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  5. #4  
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    whoops! Tried to send snapshot..... didn't work
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  6. #5  
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    Quote Originally Posted by zinjanthropos View Post
    whoops! Tried to send snapshot..... didn't work
    You are not trying to upload directly to the site are you?

    You know that facility is broken.You will have to use a third site like photobucket.com and link to any photo there.

    https://app.photobucket.com/explore
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  7. #6  
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    Quote Originally Posted by geordief View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by zinjanthropos View Post
    whoops! Tried to send snapshot..... didn't work
    You are not trying to upload directly to the site are you?

    You know that facility is broken.You will have to use a third site like photobucket.com and link to any photo there.

    https://app.photobucket.com/explore
    Thanks. Didn't know. Pretty sure I used the site's in the past. I'll give photo bucket go one of next few days. My service provider had a province wide internet failure today, Not everything working right so I have to phone and that could take hours.
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    Another failed attempt. Had the pic here but also personal info. Used Google Photos. Created link but a whole bunch of photos went with it also.

    Success!!!




    Not much as far as fossils go but this is what I found one day with a pile of other stones that were washed upon the south shore of Lake Huron. I don't go looking for them but this is probably the biggest I ever found. Since pic taken, more has been revealed and where I thought was a stone(bump on bottom)appears to be a large seashell. Anyone identify the fossil?

    when I first started the fossil was same colour as it is now, surrounding rock was greyish white. The only vinegar I had was apple cider vinegar which is brown in colour so I don’t know if that’s had an affect.
    Last edited by zinjanthropos; January 6th, 2021 at 09:36 PM.
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  9. #8  
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    Quote Originally Posted by zinjanthropos View Post
    Another failed attempt. Had the pic here but also personal info. Used Google Photos. Created link but a whole bunch of photos went with it also.

    Success!!!




    Not much as far as fossils go but this is what I found one day with a pile of other stones that were washed upon the south shore of Lake Huron. I don't go looking for them but this is probably the biggest I ever found. Since pic taken, more has been revealed and where I thought was a stone(bump on bottom)appears to be a large seashell. Anyone identify the fossil?

    when I first started the fossil was same colour as it is now, surrounding rock was greyish white. The only vinegar I had was apple cider vinegar which is brown in colour so I don’t know if that’s had an affect.
    Interesting. I don't know nearly enough to say what it is, though.

    I keep a bottle of spirit vinegar under sink for cleaning off limescale from pots and pans etc. That would avoid the staining.
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  10. #9  
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    To anybody like me, a rank amateur at this stuff, I would recommend at least trying this for a fossil you might have found. Not much to it other than check it every 12 to 24hrs. Passes the time. I figured even if I botched it I'm not really losing anything. Rock was just taking up space, had to stop wife from throwing it out...




    This end looks totally different than the other. Almost like a couple of leafy appendages or maybe even filters/nets for catching prey? Or could be result of critter ripped apart. When I look from this end it appears crayfish-like but still think its a stem of some sort.




    OK. I like the 2nd pic because of that circular opening which i think suggests a tube went upwards(?) through this creature. Didn't a lot of animals resemble plants in the early going of sea life? How do scientists distinguish? I'm thinking by looking at the ends that this organism was probably a lot rounder and it has been squashed, maybe at death.
    Last edited by zinjanthropos; January 7th, 2021 at 11:10 AM.
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    Good grief, maybe I discovered something useful. I put fossil in clear vinegar overnight and the brown stain from the apple cider vinegar went away. I think I prefer the brown stain for pics.

    Anyways here are couple shots, one from above and one from side. Side view shows a new exposed opening that wasn't there before and it is definitely part of the organism. This little guy is fairly rotund. I'm used to seeing fossils flat so could I have found a soft tissue fossil? Other shot from above shows how far I still have to go and I'm not even sure if the vinegar will help much more. Other side of fossil (underneath side of top pic) doesn't show much and still have 2-3 thin layers of sediment to get through there. Doing this I always feel like I'm going to ruin it somehow so we'll see what happens.

    Tried to find out what this is yesterday with no luck. I'm thinking towards animal now because I read that water jet propulsion was used back then by cephalopods and arthropods, so that opening at one end could be for that task....idk. I do know the rock was probably deposited where I found it by the receding Wisconsin Glacier at end of last ice age. Apparently a very good fossil hunting ground and earth scientists say it is most likely ordovician, 450 my old. Primarily limestone and one site said a lot of crushed trilobite. I did scrape away some black stuff from the other side this morning.







    I'm terrified that if this is animal that I may encounter limbs underneath. I hope not because I'd be stumped as to what to do next. The two bumps at either side of the new exposed region seem to have the same shape, so I hope its not something that's part of this. One of them has some markings like a seashell, the other nothing right now and the rock seems quite hard and different from the rest of fossil. I was thinking could they be fins, top pic shows what looks like a fin at side but I think only a shell impression. Having fun with this but slow going, i think I need stronger stuff but I have time and don't wish to ruin it any more than I probably am already..
    Last edited by zinjanthropos; January 8th, 2021 at 02:21 PM.
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  12. #11  
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    Well Zin, I am just as stumped as you are. That thing is about 400 myo out of my wheelhouse. But you've prompted me to dive into learning about the geologic history of that area, so thank you.
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  13. #12  
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    Quote Originally Posted by Falconer360 View Post
    Well Zin, I am just as stumped as you are. That thing is about 400 myo out of my wheelhouse. But you've prompted me to dive into learning about the geologic history of that area, so thank you.
    Would any of your colleagues have an idea? Of all pictures I’ve looked at last two days, flora or fauna, I’ve only seen one Ordovician organism that has lengthwise ridges and it was conical. Many are segmented yes yet nothing like this fossil. I didn’t think it would be that hard to I.D. I realize new fossils are found everyday and maybe this is one.

    Thanks for taking a look.
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    In case anyone interested in how I managed to post pics I’ll try and explain. I’m no computer whiz by any means and because forum doesn’t have that function anymore here’s what I did.

    1. Photographed fossil using iPad
    2. E-mailed it to home address from iPad photo gallery . Used little square box with arrow pointing upward.
    3. On Mac, opened mail, placed cursor on pic then held down shift+command+4 which allowed me to crop pic’s size a bit.
    4. Released the pressed keys and pc takes a snapshot which automatically creates a file. I don’t have a snapshot key.
    5. Sent file to desktop
    6. Signed on to Imgur
    7. Hit ‘New Post’
    8. Selected ‘choose file’ . Takes me to my desktop, Choose and image appears in Imgur window
    9. Copy image . Careful to only copy image
    10. Sign on TSF and go to thread reply
    11. Paste image

    A little tedious but it worked and that’s all I care. If this helps even one person it would be great.
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  15. #14  
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    Sounds good (and nice photos)

    Anyway,well done for the fossil in the first place.I wonder if you get any more feedback on it.
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    Quote Originally Posted by geordief View Post
    Sounds good (and nice photos)

    Anyway,well done for the fossil in the first place.I wonder if you get any more feedback on it.
    Hope so. Advice, identification and general debate/speculation would be great. I find myself checking ancient life sites all of a sudden so it’s been somewhat educational personally. I’ll continue to update. Speaking of speculating....

    Right now I’m mulling over the thought that this thing might be on its back. When I look at first pic in post #9 and imagine that when turned over those two mandible-like appendages would hang down and maybe grasp food and draw it towards what is really the mouth(hole where mandibles meet on fossil). I think it looks like one mandible might be folded underneath the other. I’ve heard about predator radiodonts and perhaps this may be something similar. Fun.

    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Radiodonta
    Last edited by zinjanthropos; January 8th, 2021 at 11:57 PM.
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    Problems? 3 pics coming . First pic shows exposed opening larger but with 90 degree crack not all way across by the looks of it. What you see is pretty much it.




    2nd pic shows white substance that showed up on dry side this am. I had only submerged bottom half during night. PhDemon can you help? Stuff was very soft to the touch, smeared easily, felt little damp. Using a box cutter blade I was able to scrape it off in sheets. Thinking I may have splashed some vinegar on there when I placed fossil in container. White vinegar has same 5% acetic acid to volume as the apple cider vinegar did. Might it be too strong and do I should I dilute it with water? Also as vinegar wet portion of fossil is exposed to air it dries white.




    3rd pic is the underside. haven't showed it before


    Last edited by zinjanthropos; January 9th, 2021 at 11:58 AM.
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  18. #17  
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    Quote Originally Posted by zinjanthropos View Post
    Problems? 3 pics coming . First pic shows exposed opening larger but with 90 degree crack not all way across by the looks of it. What you see is pretty much it.




    2nd pic shows white substance that showed up on dry side this am. I had only submerged bottom half during night. PhDemon can you help? Stuff was very soft to the touch, smeared easily, felt little damp. Using a box cutter blade I was able to scrape it off in sheets. Thinking I may have splashed some vinegar on there when I placed fossil in container. White vinegar has same 5% acetic acid to volume as the apple cider vinegar did. Might it be too strong and do I should I dilute it with water? Also as vinegar wet portion of fossil is exposed to air it dries white.




    3rd pic is the underside. haven't showed it before


    The white stuff could be calcium acetate, possibly. That is what will be formed when limestone reacts with acetic acid. In the solution it will remain dissolved, but on the dry surface it could crystallise, I imagine.
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    Yep, it's most probably calcium acetate... if it is it is fairly soluble in water so rinsing the fossil after taking it out of the vinegar should get rid of it.
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    400mya is outside of my main knowledge range, but the first images point me towards horn corals as a starting point.

    https://images.app.goo.gl/DUSiEqdZwF1oj16Y6

    If it is, which I suspect, then you may want to be careful with the vinegar bath, since horn coral skeletons are calcium, and you may be leaching it away rather then removing the matrix as you want to be.
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    Paleo coming in clutch on this!

    Looking up horn corals, I think Paleo is correct on this. I don't know any coral paleontologists though.
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  22. #21  
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    You guys mean leach from the inside out or surrounding material?

    Been in vinegar for 8 days and I haven’t seen much material loss. In fact I’ve had to scrape a lot off mostly bottom side. It’s like soft mud but only a thin layer at a time.
    Last edited by zinjanthropos; January 9th, 2021 at 03:17 PM.
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    Thanks for input guys. I think if things get worse I’ll stop and reconsider but will not know how to finish the job. I don’t have proper tools even though at times I’m tempted to take a hammer and chisel to it. I’ve thought of offering fossil to local university (Brock U) which has an Earth Sciences dept but not sure if universities are open to that sort of thing. And there’s COVID also.
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  24. #23  
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    Taking Paleo’s advice and stopped acid bath. Have to figure out how I can get this fossil out with the tools on hand. Took a 1/4” concrete bit and tried to drill hole through remaining sediment but careful to not hit fossil. Surprisingly it didn’t take me that long to drill through about 3/4-1”of sediment. Put fossil on it’s side exposing the underside and used spinning drill bit to grind off some material. I put fossil in small vice, careful not to damage. Found drill bit a little cumbersome so I pulled out a round hand file with an easy to hold handle. This work remarkably well and much easier to control. Took me about an hour to file down the two bumps on the one side, careful when I got near fossil. I’ve filed them down to the point where they’re thin enough to see the longitudinal ridges on fossil, just not sure how to get that remaining bit off.

    Watching American football today so I’m going to pick up on it again this week and see how far I get.
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  25. #24  
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    Quote Originally Posted by Paleoichneum View Post
    400mya is outside of my main knowledge range, but the first images point me towards horn corals as a starting point.

    https://images.app.goo.gl/DUSiEqdZwF1oj16Y6

    If it is, which I suspect, then you may want to be careful with the vinegar bath, since horn coral skeletons are calcium, and you may be leaching it away rather then removing the matrix as you want to be.
    Always listen to an expert....I think you nailed it. Some of the fossil has been bleached white. Outside of fossil still has its ridges and seems pretty solid. Yesterday I ground away some excess rock but progress slow. I'm taking my time with what I have as tools. Unfortunately my round file is beginning to dull so I'll have to figure out another approach. May end up botching it but nothing to lose. I figure if I ever free it completely that I'll water colour paint the fossil brown just to hide my mistakes. Could I shellac it?
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  26. #25  
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    Quote Originally Posted by zinjanthropos View Post
    Always listen to an expert....I think you nailed it. Some of the fossil has been bleached white. Outside of fossil still has its ridges and seems pretty solid. Yesterday I ground away some excess rock but progress slow. I'm taking my time with what I have as tools. Unfortunately my round file is beginning to dull so I'll have to figure out another approach. May end up botching it but nothing to lose. I figure if I ever free it completely that I'll water colour paint the fossil brown just to hide my mistakes. Could I shellac it?
    Different fossil materials react differently to shellac so I'm not sure about how that one would take it. And as for painting part of it brown, that sort of thing is done often to fossils to make them appear prettier or more complete. Pretty much every trilobite you see on the market has been touched up in some way.

    As for removing the excess rock, slow and steady wins the race in this matter. You could try the hammer and chisel technique if you trust yourself or are willing to glue it back together in case there are hidden faults. Which gluing a fossil isn't much of a big deal either, most of the ones on display in museums including mine have been glued.
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  27. #26  
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    Quote Originally Posted by Falconer360 View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by zinjanthropos View Post
    Always listen to an expert....I think you nailed it. Some of the fossil has been bleached white. Outside of fossil still has its ridges and seems pretty solid. Yesterday I ground away some excess rock but progress slow. I'm taking my time with what I have as tools. Unfortunately my round file is beginning to dull so I'll have to figure out another approach. May end up botching it but nothing to lose. I figure if I ever free it completely that I'll water colour paint the fossil brown just to hide my mistakes. Could I shellac it?
    Different fossil materials react differently to shellac so I'm not sure about how that one would take it. And as for painting part of it brown, that sort of thing is done often to fossils to make them appear prettier or more complete. Pretty much every trilobite you see on the market has been touched up in some way.

    As for removing the excess rock, slow and steady wins the race in this matter. You could try the hammer and chisel technique if you trust yourself or are willing to glue it back together in case there are hidden faults. Which gluing a fossil isn't much of a big deal either, most of the ones on display in museums including mine have been glued.
    Don't have a chisel but I do have a small crowbar which has a chisel end on it. I started using this today and I knocked more rock off in 15 mins than I have in all the time using vinegar. I just kept hitting rock fairly hard. Should have done it from the start. I'm pretty close to the fossil now, so trying to be careful. I can see why people in the field carry chipping hammer. Hit it enough times and the rock flakes off eventually. Still a couple small chunks and then I don't know what I'll do. Fossil still intact. On some parts of the fossil i have the rock so thin, like a veneer I can see through to fossil, might slowly brush vinegar over it while keeping a close watch.

    Instead of brown paint or shellac I was thinking of liquid brown shoe polish for final product if I get there.
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  28. #27  
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    Quote Originally Posted by zinjanthropos View Post
    Don't have a chisel but I do have a small crowbar which has a chisel end on it. I started using this today and I knocked more rock off in 15 mins than I have in all the time using vinegar. I just kept hitting rock fairly hard. Should have done it from the start. I'm pretty close to the fossil now, so trying to be careful. I can see why people in the field carry chipping hammer. Hit it enough times and the rock flakes off eventually. Still a couple small chunks and then I don't know what I'll do. Fossil still intact. On some parts of the fossil i have the rock so thin, like a veneer I can see through to fossil, might slowly brush vinegar over it while keeping a close watch.

    Instead of brown paint or shellac I was thinking of liquid brown shoe polish for final product if I get there.
    That works for chiseling it out. Sometimes the brute force method is the best lol. I think the thin veneer of vinegar closely watched should be a safe way to remove the final layer of host rock. And the shoe polish might work, having never worked with that type of fossil I'm not sure.
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  29. #28  
    Time Lord zinjanthropos's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Falconer360 View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by zinjanthropos View Post
    Don't have a chisel but I do have a small crowbar which has a chisel end on it. I started using this today and I knocked more rock off in 15 mins than I have in all the time using vinegar. I just kept hitting rock fairly hard. Should have done it from the start. I'm pretty close to the fossil now, so trying to be careful. I can see why people in the field carry chipping hammer. Hit it enough times and the rock flakes off eventually. Still a couple small chunks and then I don't know what I'll do. Fossil still intact. On some parts of the fossil i have the rock so thin, like a veneer I can see through to fossil, might slowly brush vinegar over it while keeping a close watch.

    Instead of brown paint or shellac I was thinking of liquid brown shoe polish for final product if I get there.
    That works for chiseling it out. Sometimes the brute force method is the best lol. I think the thin veneer of vinegar closely watched should be a safe way to remove the final layer of host rock. And the shoe polish might work, having never worked with that type of fossil I'm not sure.
    Don't think I have a single tool that will get me that last bit of covering rock. I've tried different things without success. Until I can come up with something I'm back to vinegar but only brushing it on. This could take forever as I don't work on it more than an hour most days. In some spots I'm having difficulty determining what's fossil and what's rock. That hard veneer seems to be prevalent in many areas so I'm thinking.... could it be part of the fossil. Eventually I'll just have to go for it and hope for the best. One thing I have learned is you don't have to baby it, it is rock
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    Samurai of Logic Falconer360's Avatar
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    The hard veneer could be part of the fossil for sure. And sometimes you have no option but to go for it and hope for the best. That's what glue is made for after all.
    "For every moment of triumph, for every instance of beauty, many souls must be trampled." Hunter S Thompson

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    Quote Originally Posted by Falconer360 View Post
    The hard veneer could be part of the fossil for sure. And sometimes you have no option but to go for it and hope for the best. That's what glue is made for after all.
    At the point where I don't have the proper means to go the final distance. Have tried several options but that last " is tough and so close to the fossil. So on hold for now. Bit worried that I may have damaged some areas with the vinegar bath but hope to cover it up if I ever get a complete look. This stuff does not flake off easy...lol
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    The last bit on any fossil is always the most bothersome in my opinion. That's the point where if something is going to break or otherwise go wrong, it goes wrong for me lol. But hey you've learned so much with this one that the next fossil you find there, you will be able to get it to this point in less than half the time!
    "For every moment of triumph, for every instance of beauty, many souls must be trampled." Hunter S Thompson

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    "Only a warrior chooses pacifism; others are condemned to it."
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  33. #32  
    Time Lord zinjanthropos's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Falconer360 View Post
    The last bit on any fossil is always the most bothersome in my opinion. That's the point where if something is going to break or otherwise go wrong, it goes wrong for me lol. But hey you've learned so much with this one that the next fossil you find there, you will be able to get it to this point in less than half the time!
    I have learned and it’s been fun. If I get this chance again I’ll be contacting experts first, like you & Paleo. I’m still going to try to finish this one off.

    Falc....Once COVID is over and border opens up again my wife & I plan to visit Penticton again to see her brother. I think I’ve convinced her to make the run to Stonerose. How far is that trip? Last time you were spot on about visiting Old Molson.
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