Mariana, 32, who has known that she wanted to be a paleontologist since she was a little girl, is now writing about the results of the research she has completed on her topic, The Effects of Preparation on Paleontological Scientific Analyses and Long-term Stability of Fossils. Through her research Mariana examined the effects of three different types of fossil preparation: air scribes, acid, and lasers. She determined that air scribes, widely used tools that are powered by compressed air and operate like miniature jackhammers by chipping through the dirt, sediment, and other materials that cover a fossil when it comes out of the ground, worked well. She found that acid preparation, if not done correctly, could damage the fossil or destroy it altogether, along with the material she was trying to remove. Lasers, a relatively new tool in conservation, could work well but their use is limited by the need to have a good technical understanding of the tool and how to use it. Mariana believes the main importance of her research lies in the fact that it was done at all, as fossil preparation methods have not been extensively researched. She hopes her research will encourage additional studies, as well as better fossil preparation practices in paleontological laboratories internationally.
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