Fossil-preparation basics: a short clip of 2 different preparation techniques

For a trilobite collector (or any fossil collector) it's often not important how different trilobites are prepared, but sometimes understanding how different trilobites are found and what techniques are used to prepare them can help to understand how an almost ordinary looking rock can turn into a scientific valuable fossil specimen, that shapes how fossils are studied and interpreted.


Chemical preparation is not often used in trilobite preparation, the whole process is usually mechanical: air scribe-ing and micro-sandblasting...


The difference between these 2 techniques can't be described in a few words only. Each preparation is different, but in simple words - the choice of technique and how detailed, fast or easy some trilobites can be prepared depends not only on time invested or equipment and skills, but mostly on preservation of each trilobite, location where it was found (different taphonomy processes that define the preservation - characteristics of matrix and exoskeleton or simply how hard the cuticle vs matrix or how well matrix splits from the fossil), and characteristics of different species (i.e. ornamentation, thickness of the exoskeleton)...


One of the 2 techniques usually works better on some trilobites, sometimes air-scribing, sometimes sandblasting and often a combination of both with a couple of other tricks. Some trilobites with very thin fragile exoskeleton in soft sticky shale require a very careful preparation and a lot of time to prep and can be tricky to sandblast at lowest pressure and impossible to prep with air-scribes - one mista