Protective Gear that You Must Include In a Paleontologist’s Field Kit

"Would you need protective gear when searching for, excavating and preserving dinosaur fossils? If so, what are the protective gear you need?"

Palaeontology is the science of studying Dinosaurs. Palaeontologists make frequent field trips to search for, excavate and preserve dinosaur fossils. Would you need any protective gear to assist you when searching for, excavating, and preserving these beautiful ancient beasts? 

Protective Gear to Be Included In a Dinosaur Field Kit

Safety Gear Required When Searching for Dinosaur Fossils

The search to find dinosaur fossils can take on many forms. You can search areas where previous dinosaur fossils were found as an individual. This would include hiking over rough terrain. It may also include searching old and working quarries. As a Paleontologist, you may use more high-tech equipment like X-rays and 3-D scanners. These different options each have their dangers to your health. Protective gear is available to make your search safe:

Prospecting for Dinosaur Fossils In the Field

Prospecting is when you go on hikes to see if you can find fragments of fossils to indicate the possibility of large bones under the surface. Included in a Paleontologist field kit will be comfortable shoes that cover ankles. You will cover rough terrain, and good shoes covering your ankles will keep you from spraining your ankle. If you find fragments, you must use leather gloves to protect your hands. Digging and chiseling hard rock is dangerous for your eyes as splinters of stone as you chip can damage your eyes. 

It would be best to wear safety glasses while chiseling away. Pack a comprehensive first-aid kit. Weather can change quickly, so you must pack a lightweight all-weather jacket to keep you dry and warm.

Prospecting for Dinosaur Fossils in Old Quarries

When prospecting in old quarries, you must take caution to be aware of the terrain. When walking on the edges of stone heaps, you must take extreme care as landslides can happen instantly. Safety gear here would include hard-tipped safety boots for your ankle’s safety. Hard hat for in case a stone is dislodged above your head, protective gloves and glasses if you start chiseling away.

Prospecting for Dinosaur Fossils In Working Or Active Quarries

It is more difficult to prospect in a working quarry. Here you must get the permission of the mining manager. You are also required to adhere to all the mine’s safety regulations. The mine’s safety regulations would include wearing a safety vest illuminated with reflection tape for high visibility. Hard hats, hearing protection, and eye protection are mandatory. You must wear steel-toed boots and protective gloves. You must also remember that quarry vehicles always have the right of way.

Searching for Dinosaur Fossils Using X-Ray Equipment

The operators of the x-ray equipment and anyone within six feet of the equipment must use lead aprons, leaded gloves, Thyroid shields, and eyeglasses made of lead. This safety equipment must also be inspected regularly with the x-ray machine to ensure no hairline cracks that can expose the user to radiation.

Protective Gear to Be Included In a Dinosaur Field Kit

Safety Gear Required When Excavating Dinosaur Fossils

Excavating a dinosaur fossil can be a huge task. Depending on the size of the fossil and where it is embedded, you are required to have different safety clothing.

Large Dinosaur Fossils

If the stone block in which the fossil is embedded can be excavated by breaking it out of the rock base, the palaeontologist can make use of cranes and trucks to get the embedded fossil to the laboratory. The block can be cut out using large angle grinders or water lasers or by using the old tradition of drilling holes with an air compressor and splitting the stone with feathers and plugs. The safety gear would be the same as when prospecting in a working quarry. A safety hat, safety vest, protective ear muffles, eye protection and steel-tipped safety boots would be required.

Other Dinosaur Fossils

Where the palaeontologist can’t use the heavy mining equipment, the dinosaur fossil must be excavated by hand. Excavating by hand would include cutting bigger areas away from the fossil with diamond-tipped angle grinders. Using the angle grinder will require wearing safety gloves, steel-tipped safety boots, goggles, hard hats, and ear muffins. Closer to the fossil, you have to chip the stone away with a hammer and chisel. The safety gear for doing this safe is wearing safety glasses and gloves.

Protective Gear to Be Included In a Dinosaur Field Kit

Safety Gear Required When Preserving the Dinosaur Fossil

There are essential safety equipment and gear in the laboratory where the persevering of the fossil is done. Burns, lacerations, chemical irritation, and inhalation are the most common laboratory injuries. The following is a list of the safety equipment and gear required in a laboratory for the researcher’s health and safety.

  • Safety goggles must be worn to protect your eyes from small stone chips as you clean the residue stone material from the fossil.
  • Eyewash stations are necessary to wash your eye out in the event of getting a small chip in the eye. When mixing epoxies and adhesives, you can also get some in the eye so that you can rinse your eye in the eyewash station.
  • Safety showers are a requirement because of the dangerous chemicals used in laboratories. If you spill some on your body, you can quickly take a shower before too much harm is done.
  • Lab coats are also worn to protect your body from dangerous chemical spills.
  • Protective gloves must be worn when using a hammer and chisel to protect your hands.
  • Fire extinguishers must be available and working if dangerous chemicals start a fire.
  • Chemical fume hoods must be available if dangerous gasses escape.
  • First-aid kits must be available to treat cuts and burns if it occurs.
  • Laboratory-safe refrigerators are used to store highly flammable chemicals.
  • Fire blankets are required for any fire hazard.

Some safety equipment may not be necessary for the palaeontologist, but these are the minimum requirements per the laboratories’ health and safety regulations.

Final Thoughts

Due to the nature of the work, it is important to wear the necessary safety gear when working with dinosaur fossils. The age-old saying better safe than sorry is so true. It may feel unnecessary or too much, but an accident can happen out of nowhere. Make sure you are prepared for any possible accident. Now that you are safe, go out and enjoy the treasure hunt.

Picture of Deon Hattingh

Deon Hattingh


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