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re:Fossil theft



I agree with what Thomas Holtz wrote.  I do not think that what Paul 
wrote was helpful.  I don't know who Paul is, but from what Thomas 
wrote, I presume he works for the Black Hills Institute.

One issue that concerns me and many of my colleagues in Scotland, 
and I presume elsewhere, is the degree of help unscrupulous 
professional and amateur collectors give the natural elements Paul 
describes.  Inland sites in Scotland have been eroded, by these 
actions, to an extent that would have normally taken many centuries.  
The important fossil material has either been destroyed by the 
collectors (who did not want anyone else to have what they had found, 
but couldn't carry their discoveries with them), sold, or been lost to 
private collectors (many of whom have no intention of allowing 
scientists see their material or deposit their collections in a 
recognised repository).  Note the use of 'many', as I know of many 
other collectors for whom this is not the case.  Our problem is that, 
even the 'protected' scientific sites have no legal protection.  The 
Sites of Special Scientific Importance (SSSI) are designated such due 
to their internationally, and locally, recognised status of being of 
immense scientific importance.  There is, however, no legal 
protection for such fossil sites, and we have to rely totally on the 
goodwill of the landowner.  As a result, many of these sites are raided 
each year by both foreign and home-grown collectors.  Many 
specimens from these localities are sold at rock fairs around the 
world and, in the process, have lost most of their data of scientific 
value.

I could go on......but basically I am saying that 'erosion is acceptable; 
thefts from sites, collections and museums are not'.

P.S. I do have a sense of humour, honest I do.
Neil Clark
Curator of Palaeontology
Hunterian Museum
University of Glasgow
email: NCLARK@museum.gla.ac.uk

Some large dinosaurs had three horns and were called
triceps, others had two horns and were called biceps.
(Geological Howlers - ed. WDI Rolfe)