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Behind the scenes of this building is an active paleontologist research facility. Where fossils help answer questions about forests and climates of the past. Research often begins by mapping rock outcrops in the field. Excavations help scientists discover new fossils. Once shale is found, it is carefully split to expose hidden fossils. The delicate fossils are padded and taken back to the lab. Back in the paleontology research area the fossils can be prepared and conserved. The first step is to trim the fragile shale and stabilize it using adhesives and consolidants. Scientists prepare the fossils under a microscope using specialized tools. The specimen is then given a catalogue number, which is a unique identifier. Next, information about the fossil is entered into a database. The fossil is then taken into the collection room Where it is photographed for the database and future research. Finally, the specimen is placed in a collection cabine. Now researchers can identify it to reconstruct the climate and environment of Eocene Florissant. This particular fossil is Sequoia, similar to the modern redwood. This discovery indicates that the climate was more favorable here during the Eocene than it is today. This fossil reveals that redwoods were more widely distributed during the Eocene as modern redwoods only grow in coastal California and Oregon. The process of science, as a means for understanding, provides information about Earth's past. Studies show that climate change during the Eocene happened more slowly than today. Studying fossils can help scientists understand the past, the present, and the future.

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3 minutes, 19 seconds

Follow a fossil from the field to the lab and learn about the active paleontology program at Florissant Fossil Beds.

Last updated: April 29, 2020

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