The huge pliosaur skull acquired under the Collecting Cultures Jurassic Life
bid is now in Sevenoaks, Kent where it is being prepared (cleaned) by Scott
Moore-Fay. Scott is an experienced and professional fossil preparator, who
worked for many years at the Natural History Museum preparation lab, deep in
the basement. It is a massive job that will take up to 14 months to
complete. So far parts of the lower jaws have been cleaned, revealing deep
teeth sockets and secondary sockets with erupting teeth.
In an amazing chance or rather opportunity, Southampton University are
taking commission of one of the worlds most powerful C/T X-ray scanners
(Catscan) and the University are prepared to scan the entire skull as a
demonstration of the power of this new machine. If the scans are successful
(which all depends on the amount or iron in the rock and the density
difference between the bone and the rock), computer software will enable a
highly detailed and virtual model to be created. It will then be possible
to view cross sections through any part of the skull and view the structures
from any angle which will be hugely valuable for the scientific study and
interpretation of the specimen.
Work has also started at the Dorset County Museum to display the specimen and the first task has been to figure out how to fit such a large object into the existing gallery. In addition, it has been agreed that a life size model of the skull should be constructed, hopefully by Christmas.
Plans are developing to tour this model along the coast prior to the opening of the new display in May next year.
Richard Edmonds, Earth Science Manager.