Kennett Square Man Quietly Chips Away at History’s Mysteries

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Kennett Square’s Fred Mullison quietly chips away at history’s mysteries as a talented fossil preparator for the Academy of Natural Sciences. Image via Joy Lee, Philadelphia Inquirer.

One millimeter at a time, he chips rock from ancient bone through the lens of a microscope.

And when Fred Mullison of Kennett Square pulls his head back to see the bigger picture, he’s holding revelations of the past in his hands.

The longtime fossil preparator for Drexel University’s Academy of Natural Sciences played a key role in recent discoveries of fish-like creatures from the depths of history, according to an NBC 10 report by Tom Avril.


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“He’s taking the rock apart grain by grain,” said paleontologist Edward B. Daeschler. “I don’t have that kind of patience.”

Mullison’s gift for fossil cleaning was first discovered when the former commercial photographer volunteered at the academy. Then, the museum landed a grant to pay him part-time for his talents, and eventually he went full-time as a fossil preparator.

“We trust him 100 percent to pull as much information as possible from the rock,” Daeschler said.

And Mullison is comfortable staying close to the microscope; he has ventured only to archaeological digs within Pennsylvania, not to the Arctic or Antarctic, where some of his specimens came from.

Read more about the man behind the Academy of Natural Sciences’ fossils on NBC 10 here.

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