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New Brunswick Museum working to preserve rare walrus fossils
SAINT JOHN -- Fishermen in the Bay of Fundy made an unusual discovery when dredging for scallops just off of Saint John, N.B.
Over the years, countless items have come into the conservation lab at the New Brunswick Museum and into the hands of long-time conservator Dee Stubbs-Lee.
“The stuff that runs across my desk in the run of a year, it's all over the place,” says Stubbs-Lee.
Over the past year, Stubbs-Lee has been working to preserve the semi-fossilized bones of two walruses, which date back roughly 10,000 years.
The fossils were dredged up in the Bay of Fundy by scallop fishermen from St. Mary's First Nation.
Despite drying the donated fossils over a matter of months, the fossils started to fall apart because of the lack of climate control in the collections centre.
“We were able to take some measures to stop that deterioration, by coating it with what's essentially a conservation-grade adhesive that was diluted down, and that would create a really thin barrier over the top,” says Stubbs-Lee.
Matt Stimson is the assistant curator of paleontology at the New Brunswick Museum. He says fossils like these are a relatively rare find for New Brunswick and Canada as a whole.
“They get dredged up on the bottom of the Bay of Fundy occasionally, or they wash out of the glacial clays along the Bay of Fundy shore, or in other parts of the province,” he says.
Stimson and Saint Mary's University paleontologist Dr. Andrew McRae have created a 3D computer model of the skull.
“We can preserve the measurements, the size the volume, the shape and the texture of the specimen in 3D,” says Stimson.