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The Daily Wildcat

 

Internship offers chance to work with dinosaur bones, fossils

Michaela+Kane%2F+The+Daily+Wildcat%0A%0AJohn+Schultz%2C+a+senior+at+the+University+of+Arizona+studying+geoscience%2C+works+at+a+geoscience+lab+where+they+reconstruct+and+restore+dinosaur+bones+and+fossils+to+sell.+
Michaela Kane
Michaela Kane/ The Daily Wildcat John Schultz, a senior at the University of Arizona studying geoscience, works at a geoscience lab where they reconstruct and restore dinosaur bones and fossils to sell.

A Tucson-based interior decorating business gives UA students the opportunity to work with dinosaur bones and other rare fossils.

GeoDecor is a business focused on restoring rare bones and fossils for interior decorating and collectors. Last semester, GeoDecor approached the UA Department of Geosciences about a potential internship for students. Restoring fossilized animals, including dinosaur skeletons, was on the list of duties.

Nancy Schmidt, a paleontology professor and adjunct instructor for geosciences, said the internship is a rare and unique opportunity for undergraduate students. Interning for a business that can provide the volume and breadth of vertebrate fossils is what makes this a tremendous opportunity, according to Schmidt.

“Primarily, the internships are designed to give the students some professional experience in a business environment related to geosciences,” Schmidt said. “The dinosaurs are just a big plus.”

The internship is one semester long and has been offered to seven UA students thus far. Roughly 40 to 45 hours working in the GeoDecor lab is equivalent to one credit hour, and students usually take one to two credit hours, according to Schmidt. The responsibilities vary from building frames to conditioning and restoring fossilized animals.

“They are learning both the soft and the hard skills,” Schmidt said. “The hard skills are how you actually do the work to prepare the fossils. The soft skills are being in an employee-like setting where you need to play well with others, have a schedule and being responsible.”

John Schultz, a geosciences senior, is currently interning for GeoDecor. The former engineering major said his hiking and camping experiences influenced his curiosity in geosciences. He said he decided to pursue the internship to gain specialized experience and see if it could be a career.

“I’m here about five hours a week,” Schultz said. “I am helping out with building transports and mounts for the fossils. I have been having so much fun since I’ve been here. It’s different from just college classes; this is someone’s business. The large fossils in here can run for tens of thousands of dollars.”

The skill set required for restoring the large pieces is incredible, according to Schultz.

“Not very many schools have things near them like this,” Schultz said, referring to GeoDecor. “It is such an incredible opportunity. Almost everything we get here comes directly from the Green River Formations.”

The lab is full of finished fossilized decor, along with in-progress skeletons. Schultz’s current endeavor is to expose a fossilized fish, while more experienced employees like geosciences senior Matt Allbright, are working to restore and construct entire dinosaur skeletons.

Allbright was an intern last semester for GeoDecor. He is currently employed by the company, working in the lab. His main responsibilities are teaching interns and building secure frames for the fossils. However, he spends a good amount of time working with the fossils and bones, he said.

“We are gearing up for the Tucson Gem and Mineral Show — that’s going to be a huge thing for this business,” Allbright said. “I’m hoping to get the interns ready by the time that ramps up.”

– Follow Emily Bregger @ebregger_news

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