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Re: more fossil theft



Erosion? Give me a break. This dispute isn't about the occasional  
amateur picking up a few busted bones he finds lying around on the  
surface somewhere; it's about for-profit collectors excavating large  
vertebrate skeletons on federal land. Anyone who has seen "then and  
now" pictures of the classic 19th century Utah/Colorado/Wyoming/etc.  
collecting areas knows that a partially exposed dinosaur skeleton is  
going to erode away in anything less than dozens or hundreds of  
years. As for documentation, all the documentation in the world is  
useless as long as a specimen remains in private hands and is treated  
as an art object instead of a source of data. There are plenty of  
private collectors who co-operate with professional paleontologists  
over scientifically important specimens, but all the co-operation in  
the world isn't going to help when a specimen held in private hands  
disappears after the owner dies or sells it (just look at the recent  
Archaeopteryx case). Say what you want about Cope and Marsh, but at  
least they deposited their material in public collections where they  
can still be seen by anyone who cares to look.

I want to emphasize I have nothing against Peter Larson and the BHI.  
>From what little I know of him - basically from the media, from  
hearing a couple of his talks, and from having dinner with him at a  
meeting once - he seems like an intelligent, honest, and sincere  
person who cares about science. My concern is with finding a way to  
give the Larsons of the world a break while preventing major  
specimens from disappearing forever into private hands without  
documentation.