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Who Owns Fossils - The 'Media' Reports.... (fwd)

Here's a little blurb that came thru on the rocks and fossils mailing 
list today. 

---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Mon, 15 Aug 1994 09:26:43 -0700
From: Joe Small <bonebug@halcyon.com>
To: rocks-and-fossils@world.std.com
Subject: Who Owns Fossils - The 'Media' Reports....

This article appears in today's paper.  I did not write it; just passing it 
on for your amusement/amazement.

--------- begin transcript ---------

The Associated Press

Bellingham - Like a lot of 7-year-olds, Alex Parker is into dinosaurs.  He 
reads up on them, watches documentaries about them, and carefully plots the 
sites of paleontological digs.

Last month - after considerable hounding Alex - his parents, Janine and 
Bruce Parker, agreed to take him bone hunting in Montana.

"He never let up on it and every time we'd do something, he'd ask, 'When are 
we going to look for dinosaurs?'"  Bruce recalled.

"I just wanted to find dinosaurs," Alex recalled.

But what started out as an innocent outing for the Bellingham family has 
sparked a controversy with landowners who are tired of bone hunters digging 
up their land.

After touring a Museum of the Rockies dig on Egg Mountain, the Parkers 
decided to do some digging of their own just down the road.  

They thought they were still on the Egg Mountain project's land, Bruce 
Parker said, but instead had wandered on to the ranch of Bob Peebles and his 

Right next to where they parked the care, Bruce Parker began finding bones 
in an eroded wash.

The dinosaur kept getting bigger as they kept digging, finding bones from 
the spine, ribs, teeth, pelvis, jaw, nose, eye socket and head.

Eventually, they realized the find might be significant and reported it to 

Scientists believe the bones may be from a tyrannosaurid - a smaller 
relative of the meat-eating tyrannosaurus rex.  If it turns out to be a full 
skeleton, it could be important.

"Dinosaur finds at this point still are amazing," said David Trexler, 
curator of paleontology at the nearby Old Trail Museum in Choteau, Mont.

"There's so much that we don't know that any discovery has potential 
scientific importance," he said.  "The problem is, until something is dug, 
researched, you really don't know whether it's going to contribute any 
additional information to the field."

Regardless of whether the find turns out to be significant, the Peebles 
family isn't appreciative.

The family ranch is strewn with dinosaur remains, and since scientists began 
taking interest in them about a decade ago, the family has had to deal with 
preservationists, trespassers and fortune hunters, among others.

"The entire area looks like a huge badlands and there are bones virtually 
every place," Bob Peebles said.  "It's caused a lot of trauma and heartache."

Peebles wants to start charging people to dig on the land, but he isn't sure 
how much.

And he thinks he could sell the bones of the Parkers' find to investors for 
thousands of dollars, although he'd rather aid research.

"I've got what they've dug on my front doorstep," he said.  "The potential 
might be there."

Scientists are reluctant to speculate on the possible importance of the 
Parkers' find, fearing they'd inflame the controversy.

"We won't know for sure what it was unless we can take out the rest of the 
bones," said Jack Horner, a paleontologist a Montana State University and 
curator of the Museum of the Rockies.  "If they dig it up and take it away, 
we may never know what it was."

-------- end transcript -----------

Joe Small - Amateur Paleontologist &   Editor of 'Bone Bug Journal,
                                       Field Notes':
                                       Twice-monthly newsletter of
bonebug@halcyon.com                    amateur paleontology