The following points highlight six main sophisticated techniques which are employed these days to study the fossils in laboratory. The techniques are: 1. Ground Thin Section Technique 2. Peel Technique 3. Transfer Technique 4. Maceration Technique 5. X-ray Technique 6. Microtomy Technique.
1. Ground Thin Section Technique:
The specimen to be studied is cut into small-sized sections. Its surfaces are smoothed with 400-carborundum. The smooth surface of the section of the specimen is mounted on a glass slide. It is warmed and coated with melted resin.
The latter hardens upon cooling. The fastened specimens are cut to form very thin slices which are ground on revolving 100-carborundum lap. Liquid resin-mounting medium is used for mounting the sections.
2. Peel Technique:
The first step of this technique involves the etching of the fossil surface with the help of some mineral acids (e.g., hydrofluoric acid) and the final step involves transfer of the exact fossil structure.
Another mixture usually used for etching is prepared by mixing butyl acetate (1000ml), nitrocellulose (115gm), toluol (10ml), amyl alcohol (200ml) and dehydrated castor oil (5ml). Before using for etching purposes, this mixture is aged for at least two weeks.
After etching the specimen surface is washed with water, dried and covered with nitrocellulose. Wait for a few hours. The so formed film will dry during this period. It is peeled off from the specimen and studied.
3. Transfer Technique:
Delicate fossil materials are studied by this technique. Several methods are used in the form of transfer technique In the Ash by cellulose film transfer method, peel solution is coated on the delicate fossil material adjoining the rock surface. When the solution dries, the portion of the rock having fossil material is removed. 25% hydrofluoric acid is then used for dissolving the rock material.
4. Maceration Technique:
In the usual method of maceration technique, the fossil material is immersed in a mixture of 5% KOH and Cone. HNO3 for one week. The material is then washed thoroughly with water so that the acid is completely removed. It is then incubated with the solution of NaOH. Hydrofluoric acid is used for cleaning the thus separated cuticularized parts of the fossil material.
5. X-ray Technique:
Highly sensitive celluloid films are used to obtain X-ray photographs of the fossil specimens.
6. Microtomy Technique:
Fossil specimens, specially their macerated tissues, are embedded in celloidin or wax before microtomy. Sectioning of the embedded material is done by usual process of microtomy. The sectioned materials are stained and studied.