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Stanislaus lab temporary home of ancient lizard fossil
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Susan Bowman shows off the fossilized remains of a giant aquatic lizard she has been working on in a lab at California State University, Stanislaus. - photo by ANDREA GOODWIN / The Journal
Susan Bowman spends most of her days in the geology laboratory at California State University, Stanislaus, digging, dusting, gluing and otherwise cleaning up the fossilized remains of a giant aquatic lizard. Bowman is a graduate of CSU Stanislaus with a bachelor of arts in Anthropology and Archeology, and a minor in geology and paleontology. She is an intern at the Bureau of Land Management and first laid eyes on the fossil in the Panoche Hills in western Fresno County.  She said that getting the fossil out was a little difficult. The section of shale where the lizard was found was wrapped in a cocoon of burlap and plaster and carted out. “It’s a really nasty, steep hike,” Bowman said. CSU Stanislaus volunteered their lab space in Niraghi Hall for the cleaning and preparation of the fossil. Bowman works alone on the preparation, except when her 10-year-old son Tyler volunteers extra hands to help hold fossil pieces together. The fossil was positively identified as the upper half of a plesiosaur, a flippered marine lizard from the late Cretaceous period. Bowman will prepare the fossil remains of the vertebrae, ribs and flippers of the plesiosaur for display at UC Berkeley. “It’s hard to tell what the value of this find is. It can possibly give us insight into new knowledge,” Bowman said.