Replicas of Fossils
All of the trace fossils you have seen on this web site are
casts. That is, they are replicas of the original fossil.
The casts were made for a touring exhibit on trace fossils.
Why Not Display the Original Fossil?
Palaeontologists have been making copies of fossils for a
very long time and are very good at it.
Often, the original fossil is delicate so it's a good idea
to have a copy. Sometimes, the fossil may be too large to
collect from the field so we will make a copy right from the
original rock outdoors.
Certain types of rocks are very heavy. We may want to make
a lighter weight copy of the fossil, like we did for the traveling
exhibit on trace fossils.
Many of the trace fossils you have seen on this web page belong
to other museums. That's why we had to make copies of them.
The other museums wanted to keep them, but they were willing
to share them with us.
Ya Do That?
The first step in making a duplicate fossil is to make what
is called a mold. There are a few different ways of doing
Watch the museum crew as they paint
liquid rubber (latex) directly onto a rock with a very
special trace fossil on it (MPEG file size 992 kb; view transcript).
The rock is from Big Tancook Island in Nova Scotia.