Preparation of fossil bone for histological examination

Chinsamy, Anusuya
Raath, Michael A
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Bernard Price Institute for Palaeontological Research
Palaeo-histology is the branch of palaeontology concerned with the microscopic structure of fossil bone. Researchers entering the field for the first time become aware of a need for a concise description of a technique to prepare thin sections from fossil bone. This note aims to fill that need by describing the procedure used in a recent palaeohistological study (Chinsamy 1988, 1990, 1991, 1992). The technique described has been successfully applied to the bones of dinosaurs and mammal-like reptiles, as well as to archaeological samples ofhuman bone and also to defatted bone of recent taxa. There is no one 'correct' method of making sections of hard tissues like bones, but all existing techniques share a number of core processes in common (Enlow 1954; Enlow and Brown 1956; Honjo and Fischer 1965; Peabody 1961 ; Macfall and Wollin 1972; Buffrenil, Ricqles, Ray and Domning 1990). Although the method described here is specifically intended for use on bone, thin sections of fossilised wood have also been obtained using the same method.
histology , embedding , Sectioning