NPS - National Park Service

01/20/2021 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 01/20/2021 10:14

Petrified Forest National Park’s Museum Demonstration Lab Hours Extended.

News Release Date:
January 20, 2021

Contact:Sarah Herve, 928-524-6228 x.245

Petrified Forest, AZ- Come out to the park Wednesday through Sunday, 9am to 3pm to see what's going on in the museum demonstration lab. Visitors can interact with paleontologists working in the museum demonstration lab via a two-way speaker system and look through the lab window as fossils are being cleaned and prepared for display or study.

Current projects in the museum demonstration lab include preparation of a large metoposaur (early amphibian) skeleton collected from the Blue Mesa Member (approximately 223 million years old). This semi-articulated specimen contains a skull, vertebrae, and ribs. The skull is large and flat and contains lots of pits and grooves. The two oval shaped holes next to the scale bar are the orbits where the eyes would have been located and one of the nostrils has been uncovered at the very tip of the snout. Behind the skull, you can see a few cylindrical-shaped bones that are part of the backbone of the animal.

'This winter we are catching up on our backlog of museum collection projects' says paleontologist and lab worker Diana Boudreau 'This includes rehousing specimens with archival materials, repairing fragile fossils, and caring for the more than 35,000 paleontological specimens from the park.' While the lab crew often work on items that have been in collections for many years, the collection continues to grow. Three new species of fossil were described in 2020 and were rehoused and on display for a limited time. In the words of paleontologist and lab worker, Phil Varela 'There's always something exciting on the work benches in the museum demonstration lab.'