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Fossil significance



*** Resending note of 04/02/95 22:36
To: MNHAD002--SIVM     Multiple recipient

Here's another note that came across that will be of interest, attempting
to discuss what is really significant as a fossil.   REC


>From: The Vertebrate Paleontology Community discussion list

Date:         Sun, 2 Apr 1995 19:59:59 -0600
Reply-To:     The Vertebrate Paleontology Community discussion list
              <VRTPALEO@USCVM.BITNET>
Sender:       The Vertebrate Paleontology Community discussion list
              <VRTPALEO@USCVM.BITNET>
>From:         "Richard K. Stucky" <rstucky@CSN.ORG>
Subject:      Fossil significance
X-To:         vrtpaleo@vm.usc.edu
To:           Multiple recipients of list VRTPALEO <VRTPALEO@USCVM.BITNET>

The following was prepared by the Science Committee of the Western
Interior Paleontological Society based in Denver Colorado.  WIPS is an
amateur paleontological society which meets the first thursday of every
month in Ricketson Auditorium at the Denver Museum of Natural History,
except June through August.
This was prepared by the amateurs in the Society with some
limited input from professionals.  I would be interested in your comments
as to the feasibility of implementing and using these as a guideline for
paleontological work:

GUIDELINES FOR DETERMINING THE SCIENTIFIC SIGNIFICANCE OF SPECIMENS
RECOVERED BY WIPS MEMBERS

These guidelines are presented for use by members on WIPS sponsored
activities, but are recommended for all members at all times.

Scientific significance may refer to the occurrence of a specimen rather
than the specimen itself.  This makes it important to document all taxa
recovered from all localities.  However, the specimen represents the
scientific significance.  Therefore, we define a scientifically
significant specimen as one that:

1. represents a new taxon; or
2. represents a rare, seldom found taxon; or
3. is especially well preserved; or
4. is useful to ongoing paleontological research; or
5. represents a rare geographical or stratigraphical location; or
6. were preserved under rare conditions or in such a way as to preserve
an unusual happening, i.e. a common taxon in a previously unknown
geographic or time/rock location, a common specimen smashed in a dinosaur
track, or an ammonite with mosasaur teeth marks; or
7. may be specific to a particular region (possibility should be
emphasized in pre-trip meeting); or
8. is a vertebrate specimen (Vertebrates are usually considered to be
scientifically significant unless demonstrated not to be; invertebrates
[this includes plants] are usually considered not to be scientifically
significant unless demonstrated to be.); or
9. is collected before it has been determined that no additional
specimens are signficant to the attributes under study.

Should you recover what you think is a scientifically significantly
specimen we recommend that you:

1. notify the field trip leader, if you are on a WIPS field trip;
2. get a second opinion, if you are not on a WIPS field trip (contact a
professional or highly qualified amateur paleontologist, take the
specimen to an educational or scientific institution, or bring it to a
WIPS meeting);
3. Place it in a proper repository (Keep in mind current collecting
regulations, perhaps the specimen legally belongs in such a repository).

Richard Stucky
Denver Museum of Natural History