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Keywords:

  • Scanning electron microscopy;
  • Mold;
  • Cast;
  • Silicone-based impression material;
  • Epoxy

Abstract

Scanning electron microscopy has become an increasingly useful tool for anthropologists, particularly because of the development of improved methods of replicating specimens. One of the best replication techniques involves silicone-based dental impression materials to make negative impressions, in conjunction with epoxy resins, which are used to make positives or casts. The technique outlined here is particularly useful for anthropologists. Using this technique allows the examination of bone surfaces, teeth, and fossils for taphonomic, microwear, and experimental studies. Reproduction of detail is faithful at magnifications of × 1,500 to × 2,000, routinely giving resolutions of .1 to .25 μm.