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Fossil collecting,hunting,non-pro

>Forwarded message:
>> Why don't some of you pro's sponsor us, and use us as the many extra sets of
>> eyes we can be.  Nothing would give me greater satisfaction than knowing one
>> of my walks in the desert brought either a new species, or perfect specimen,
>> to the light of acadamia.
>I agree 100%. I can't think of anything that would make my day more 
>than finding something like this; I don't want souvenirs - my 
>conscience wouldn't let me keep them, anyway. I just want the 
>opportunity to be involved.

Many great specimens are ones which were found by non-professional people
who happend to look down at the ground at the right moment while walking in
the wilderness (or found something while bulldozing for a new development,
or spotted something sticking out of a rock on a stone wall, or...).

However, "sponsoring" in a monetary sense generally won't work, since most
museums are REALLY strapped for funds these days.  If it was a
non-financial "sponsorship", I'm not certain that the museum wouldn't want
you.  You might ask the local museum about such an arrangement; the worst
they could do is say "no".

Another option for "getting involved" is volunteering on a dig.  Check with
your local musuem/geology department for more information, or look at
catalogs from EarthWatch, the Smithsonian Expeditions, etc. (many of these
are advertised in natural history magazines like Smithsonian, Natural
History, Discover, and Earth).  Often you'll have to pay your own way for
these trips, but for big projects paleontologists can always use a few
extra hands.  On the dino dig I was on this summer, we had only four
professional paleontologists/geologists of the eleven members during our
session of the camp.  The rest were people from all walks of life who
wanted to go out to Wyoming, live in tents, and dig for bones.

For those of you who don't like the outdoors, or can't afford the trip, or
aren't interested in the field work aspects of paleontology, there are
often opportunities for volunteering a local musuems.  This work will often
be in preparation, or assorted collections-related activities, but can be
interesting, and is a very "hands-on" way to get to know fossils.  Although
we're not doing vertebrate work here at the USGS-Reston, we have many
volunteers and part-timers who wash, pick, sort, and catalog microfossil
samples, as well as do computer and library work.  It's a way to get
involved, and given the current financial situation for "basic research" in
the U.S., it is often a means by which we can get work done without
drastically raising costs.

Well, I hope this helps.  Remember, your local museums, geology
departments, and geological surveys may be interested in your help as much
as you are interested in getting involved in paleontology research.  Give
them a call if you're interested.

(God, I sound like a commercial...)
Thomas R. Holtz, Jr.
Vertebrate Paleontologist in Exile
U.S. Geological Survey
Branch of Paleontology & Stratigraphy
MS 970 National Center
Reston, VA  22092

email:  tholtz@geochange.er.usgs.gov 
Phone:  703-648-5280
FAX:            703-648-5420