It's hard work but the results are worth it!
Perhaps that title is a little misleading, work isn't too difficult when your heart and soul go into it! Our thoughts of the next expedition, that's how we see it as an expedition, even after over quarter of a century its all a great adventure, yes our circumnavigations are now quite routine, however the maps come out. This planning builds up the anticipation of travel and of great conquests and finds to be unearthed.
Of course the usual rush of travel and the 2500km round route drive once our feet hit terra firma can be a little taxing. Driving over the Atlas mountains often through the clouded lightless night, or overhead the stars and moon may illuminate our traverses, down into the the Sahara proper as sunrise lifts ahead of us, as we penetrate eastwards on the last leg towards our goals of fossil beds filled with extraordinary dinosaurian or monumental fossil plates of pre-historic creatures all waiting to be exhumed and ours to be the first eyes to wonder at the marvels of nature. if only it was so! We spend weeks enduring very hot summer dry dusty days and shiver through long dimly lit winter nights at high altitude in order to glimpse something different. for different, new, latest and the first discoveries, are the fossickers byword in this part of the world.
We are often quite successful and our friends and colleagues the fossil diggers, preparitors and merchants supply our hunger, often on arrival in the many enclaves on the perimeter of the sea of sand the fruits of their labours are displayed with pride. We barter as is traditional and strike accord when we see something exceptional to add to our collection. We are shown great hospitality, we are a life line to a better existance for some, however the author remembers the early days when equally as much goodwill purveyed with little financial gain for the hosts of this region. The Berber is a noble and proud individual, make a friend and you will have a friend for life.
The fossils gotten from the four corners of our expedition, the desert floor, the high Anti Atlas ranges and the Middle Atlas. We start to wrap and pack our specimens, some encased in rock, many pre-worked to various stages of completion, the Moroccan artisan can produce fine work as equally as horrific work, the latter we tend to avoid!
Once we have our fossil the real work begins, unfortunately it can't always be the nice parts of life. Back through the heat of a summer day we may have to struggle with great wooden boxes of rock, loading onto battered trucks, shipped out of the desert towns, later on larger trucks or as cargo over sea. We make our goodbyes and travel the several hundred kilometres firstly by piste and single track roads to pull upwards over the heights of the Anti Atlas once more.
The design process
On our return our team select and clean and process our finds, this next stage is definitely the most important and most taxing part of the whole affair. Experienced eyes and steady hands are essential. Our speciality is born from the inspiration of our founder and key technician, Benjamin has an eye for the style, an inherent style which has produced fossils that have created a stir in several disciplines and environments. This aesthetic and practical skill base gives The Fossil Store the edge we guard closely.
Outside of our in house team we also have the help of a select group of masters of the pneumatic air driven pen, a tool vital in dentistry and just as vital in fossil prep. Sympathetic preparatory cleaning of fossils is essential to retain authenticity of the original find as much as is possible, basically the fossil industry is generally in agreement that no more than 20 to 25% restoration is an acceptable limit, we hope to have less than 10% to no restoration wherever possible and only clean rather than enhance any specimen. many specimens in museums are 90% reconstructed, in fact few T'rex skeletons are above 50% complete, only a handful hit above that percentage rate of completeness. The first above 80 to 90% completeness being discovered, unearthed and sold in the last decade of the 20th century.