Large fossil bones are often very fragile, even after being cleaned and glued. In fact, large bones often cannot support their own weight, which presents a problem when we’re trying to clean or study them. To get around this problem we reconstruct large bones in a sandbox. That way we can pile the sand up under the high points in the bone so that it’s supported evenly across its entire length. It also allows us to set bones at angles at which they would fall over if they were just sitting on a table. We often have to do this to hold two fragments at the proper angle to each other while they are glued back together.
That has presented a problem for us at VMNH, because a large number of our vertebrate fossils are from either dinosaurs or whales–two groups not exactly known for being tiny! So B&G built us this table-sized sandbox, which is large enough to hold the skull of any species of whale found at Carmel Church so far (except Eobalaenoptera), as well the largest dinosaur bones we’ve collected. (They’ve promised that if we find a complete skull of Eobalaenoptera they’ll build me an even bigger sandbox.)
So thanks to Building and Grounds for helping us out with this box, which will really speed up our whale preparation.