How to Remove Limestone on a Fossil

Written by jeremiah blanchard
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Limestone normally contains a vast amount of fossilized plant and animal remains. Throughout the geological process of forming limestone, many creatures lie buried in sediment which surfaces as limestone over millions of years. Limestone containing fossils isn't easily removed without appropriate tools. Paleontologists study and practice for many years in the art of fossil preparation, a delicate process of removing fossils from rock. Removing limestone from a fossil can be accomplished following a proper set of guidelines.

Skill level:
Moderately Challenging

Things you need

  • Vibro-tool
  • Chisel
  • Hammer (rock hammer)
  • Metal fossil pick

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  1. 1

    Lay the limestone rock containing the fossil on a flat work surface. A sturdy workbench or tabletop is ideal.

  2. 2

    Chisel the limestone away from the fossil using a small chisel and tap-hammer. Begin at the end of the rock and work your way toward the fossil. Lightly tap the chisel to break away chunks of limestone. Be careful to not damage the fossil.

  3. 3

    Use a vibro-tool to remove limestone from near the fossil. The vibro-tool is used somewhat like a rotary tool; be very precise in the tool head placement. Do not place the vibrating tip too close to the fossil. Work around the fossil staying at least 1/4 inch away from the fossil.

  4. 4

    Use a metal fossil pick to remove small limestone fragments from the surface of the fossil. This tool looks somewhat like a pick used by a dentist. Gently scrape and pick small pieces of limestone away from the fossil.

Tips and warnings

  • Acidic solutions can be used to dissolve limestone from certain fossils. These solutions should be used with proper guidance from an experienced paleontologist or chemist as they can easily damage the actual fossil if used incorrectly.

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