IPHES is inspired by the Smithsonian Natural History Museum to apply innovative conservation techniques to the fossils of large mammals found in the Barranc de la Boella site


The conservation of the fossils recovered in archeopaleontological sites is an accurate work that demands specialized techniques. In order to improve the conservation of the 1 million year-old large mammals remains from the Barranc de la Boella site (Tarragona, Spain), Lucía López-Polín, conservator at IPHES (the Institut Català de Paleoecologia Humana i Evolució Social) has benefit from fellowship grant to conduct her research at the at the National Museum of Natural History in Washington DC.

The aim of this research was to study the packaging and storage systems for fossil vertebrates that are used in the above-mentioned Smithsonian museum. The study seek to assess if their methods would be useful for the fossils of proboscides and other large mammals from Barranc de la Boella, which have a unique problem due to their large dimensions and weights.

Lucía López-Polín at Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History (Washington D.C.) – S. Jabo.

The work has been developed in the Conservation department headed by Catharine Hawks who is in charge of the conservation of the museum’s enormous collections. There, Lucía López-Polin has reviewed the different packaging systems of fossil vertebrates and she also carried out a series of quantitative analyzes on the protection that different packaging systems provide to the fossils. The experimental work that has been carried out along with Steven Jabo, preparator at the  Paleobiology department.

Biographical profile

Lucía López-Polín is a conservator-restorer specialized in the treatment of quaternary remains. Member of the Atapuerca Research Team since 1997, she joined the scientific team led by Eudald Carbonell at the Universitat Rovira i Virgili as a fellow in 2003. Since 2008 she has been a conservator at IPHES. She is an expert in field work and in the treatment of archaeopaleontological material from Paleolithic sites up to 1 million.