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Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History
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Drawing of a fossil preparator's hand excavating a juvenile Compsognathus dinosaur from rock, as the little dinosaur comes to life.
Department of Paleobiology volunteers and staff at work in Fossilab. A map of the first floor of the Museum showing the location of FossiLab

Click images to zoom.

FossiLab is a real laboratory located at the back of the Dinosaur and Ancient Seas halls of the National Museum of Natural History.  Paleontologists and volunteers working in this glass-enclosed space unpack new fossil shipments from the field, prepare fossils for study by removing the rock matrix that encases them, piece together broken fossils, and perform many other fossil preparation and conservation tasks. Visitors to the Museum can watch us work, talk to us about what we are doing, and ask questions.  

Explore the links below to find out more.

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FossiLab Projects

What's happening in Fossilab? Learn about current projects, see photos of the fossils and follow our progress.

preparing a fossil whale bone with a pick What is fossil preparation?
Learn about fossil preparation and see some of the tools in action.
pack horses carrying fossils in northern Arizona Blog Posts from FossiLab
Visit the National Museum of Natural History blog to read posts about our work.
"Are the fossils real?" and other Frequently Asked Questions
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FossiLab gratefully acknowledges a 2008 grant from the Smithsonian Women’s Committee in support of volunteer training.

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