Posthumous Palaeoconservation

Weird title right? It’ll make sense in a minute.

Those of you that have visited the site in the past will know that the amount and size of the fossil specimens produced during initial excavations back in 2008-9 far exceeded the storage capacity available to the Brymbo Heritage Trust. This led to many large lycopod stumps taking up residence on the floor of the Machine Shop (a large early 20th century building in the Ironworks dedicated to machine maintenance and repair). over the past 11 years, the absence of a dedicated custodian and the need for other activities to take place on site meant these specimens where moved and unfortunately, some were left exposed to the elements.

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The huge lycopod stump uncovered in 2009 now fondly referred to as ‘Stumpy’

As you can see, the lycopod stump above is massive, trying to store this thing securely for 10 years was difficult. Unfortunately, at some point beteween 2009-2017 this humungous fossil was moved outside. the resulting weathering has all but destroyed the bottom portion

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The bottom portion of ‘Stumpy’ in June 2019

Unfortunately, this part of the fossil was now beyond repair. In order to save what information was left in this specimen it was decided that two things needed to happen. Firstly, we needed to make a digital replica of the fossil as it was so that it could be digitally ‘repaired’ and reproduced at a later date and secondly, this unfortunate circumstance presented and interesting opportunity: similar stumps found at the Joggins Cliff site were found to contain the remains of sheltering animals! (Falcon-Lang & Calder 2004). Luckily, our partnership with Wrexham Glyndŵr University allowed us the opportunity to also work with FARO, manufacturers of some of the worlds leading precision measurement systems. In early June of 2019 we were able to secure a day using the FaroArm, a precision 3D measurement system to digitally scan the remaining bottom portion of Stumpy!

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Producing the 3D image of Stumpy using the FaroArm

The lovely chaps at FARO supplied us with the resulting scan which we hope to edit to represent the fossil as it was when found. This will allow us to produce an accurate replica to re-install where it was originally found once the phase-one fossil forest building is complete.

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Low-res render of the (huge) file produced by the FaroArm scan

Now we have this scan the remains of stumpy are digitally immortalised! This allowed us to practice some field skills and ‘excavate’ the remains. The activity itself will be covered in a future update but it was fun and we found some interesting things, so stay tuned!…

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Volunteers Iestyn & Tim working on the remains of Stumpy

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