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Dino-Birds: The Feathered Dinosaurs of China
The dinobird 'Fuzzy raptor' being cleaned in the Museum's Palaeontology Conservation Unit.

The dinobird 'Fuzzy raptor' being cleaned in the Museum's Palaeontology Conservation Unit.

The dinobird 'Fuzzy raptor' being cleaned in the Museum's Palaeontology Conservation Unit.

The dinobird 'Fuzzy raptor' being cleaned in the Museum's Palaeontology Conservation Unit

   
  Conservation of Dinobirds
 

In early May 2002, two NHM staff went to China to collect the Liaoning fossils and escort them back to London. Once here, Museum conservators and staff from The Geological Museum of China worked together to conserve these precious fossils for future generations to study and enjoy. The work was divided into four stages:

Stage 1: Condition survey
Each specimen is carefully examined and photographed. Once its condition has been assessed and recorded, the appropriate conservation treatment can be applied.

Stage 2: Conservation work
Some specimens are well preserved and don't require any additional conservation. However, some show evidence of contamination by materials such as paint and old adhesives, which must be removed. Techniques used on the specimens ranged from gentle brushing to the application of solvent gels. Some of the larger cracks need filling with reversible gap fillers to help stabilise the specimens.

Stage 3: Recording treatment
A record is made at every stage of treatment and all chemicals used are listed. This 'treatment history' of a specimen, along with the condition report, is a very useful reference for anyone else working on the specimen in the future, rather like a patient's medical notes.

Stage 4: Correct installation
Conservation does not stop once the specimen has been treated. The environment in which it is housed is also very important for its future welfare. If the air is too dry or humid the specimens could crack and warp. If the light is too strong, the colours on the surface may alter and any chemicals applied to the surface could deteriorate. Conservators are therefore consulted on the display case design, lighting and atmospheric environment prior to installation in a gallery.