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    quynhh's Avatar
    quynhh Posts: 2, Reputation: 1
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    #1

    Apr 6, 2011, 08:49 PM
    Fossil Extraction Question
    I'm a high school student doing a research experiment. I've decided to test different acids on fossil shards and see which one does the most effective job of dissolving the rock without damaging the fossil. My question is, what acid is currently being used and why?
    tickle's Avatar
    tickle Posts: 23,801, Reputation: 2674
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    #2

    Apr 7, 2011, 03:12 AM

    As much debris as possible is removed from a fossil bone with mechanical means, i.e. high speed engraving pen normally used to engrave metal. These pneumatic pens do not harm the bone.

    The fossil bone is then immersed in a solution containing 5 percent acetic acid for three days, then in water for six. Acetic acid is best because it is organic and not chemical.

    Tick
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    quynhh Posts: 2, Reputation: 1
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    #3

    Apr 8, 2011, 06:15 PM
    Thank you for your answer. Do you have any suggestions as to how I can go about my experiment in terms of my method or variation of acids, or even if I have a chance of finding anything that is at all effective other than acetic acid? Unfortunately, I don't have time to go conduct extensive research until Monday and I need to know fairly soon if I can make this experiment work within the confines of a high school laboratory. I will be using relatively small fossil shards.
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    tickle Posts: 23,801, Reputation: 2674
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    #4

    Apr 9, 2011, 02:57 AM

    I don't know how you can improve, by testing, a system that has worked for years. I don't think you can find any other organic acids than acetic acid. Any other chemical acid strong enough to remove rock will destroy the bone as well.

    Tick

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