Scientists create realistic fossils in 24 hours using new lab method

Scientists have developed a new way to create synthetic fossils in a single day, the University of Bristol has announced. A natural fossil is the byproduct of millions of years and certain environmental conditions, but man-made fossils are created in a lab using an artificial maturation process that simulates the real thing. A new experimental protocol for creating these synthetic fossils may help scientists create these objects for research purposes.

Synthetic fossils are tools used to study fossils and the act of fossilization. According to the University of Bristol, existing methods for creating synthetic fossils involve small sealed chambers that produce a less than authentic result.

These chambers can trap stable organic molecules that researchers are interested in studying, but have the downside of trapping unstable molecules that aren't typically found in natural fossils. This presents an element of difficultly in comparing synthetic fossils with natural fossils.

However, researchers with the university have developed a new method that produces high-quality synthetic fossils without a "rancid-smelling goo" produced by alternative processes. The entire faux fossil creation process lasts 24 hours and involves thin clay tablets.

The items to be fossilized are put within these clay tablets, then the tablets are put in a sealed tube where they're heated at a reasonable 410F, but under 3500 psi pressure. Once removed and cooled, the tablets are cracked open to reveal the man-made smelly goo involved.

SOURCE: University of Bristol