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Fossil Butte National Monument

Green River Arthropods

This project was commissioned by Fossil Butte National Monument for a diorama depicting the fauna from the Green River Formation.  We were commissioned to sculpt about 28 different arthropod models that are exquisitely preserved in the matrix.  This created a unique challenge because some of the details preserved could not be overlooked.  This is represented in the skipper butterfly, the patterning is preserved not only on the wings but also in an alternating pattern on the distinct antennae of this creature.  Sizes of these models range from 0.2 inches (fungus gnat) to 5.5 inches (silk moth).  The greatest challenge was sculpting the smallest models, which were done under a microscope.  Multiple casts were needed of some of the animals, so we had to figure out how to mold and cast these tiny bodies, legs and wings.  This pushed my expertise to the limits.  We tested many different rubbers and plastics and some of the models incorporate 3-4 different plastics. But in the end, after all the trials and cursing, the results were worth it!