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Re: Dinosaur eggs

Jim Foley wrote:

>Surely these issues aren't a concern when it comes to common stuff like
>trilobites, or the fossil fish from the Green River formation in
>Wyoming?  There are millions, possibly billions, of some of these common

It isn't so much a case of dealing in such common fossils, but how the
fossils were obtained in the first place. My field area has been raided at
least a couple of times by 'professional' collectors, after distinctive
red-stained Redlichiid trilobites up to 20 cm long. The collectors were
only after good specimes (a bit difficult to find when the deposit has
three cleavages) and so wasted a lot of material, breaking up odd looking
swirls and poorly preserved fragments. Unfortunately the deposit is classed
as a lagerstatte (site of exceptional preservation) - one of only a very
few dating from the Early Cambrian and those odd swirls are actually soft
bodied material such as the trilobite _Naraoia_ and the arachnomorph
_Xanderella_ - so far only found in China and _Anomalocaris_, which
although scrappy is *much* more important that the trilobites. Indeed the
first specimen of _Anomalocaris_ was discovered on the spoil heap left by
the collectors, discarded because they did not know what it was. It is
rumoured that a specimen of an unusual round fossil was found. No other
round fossils have been found in the deposit, so if true, this would be a
new specimen. However it is alleged (This is going to court this year
hopefully) that this specimen amongst others was shipped to Japan and sold
at a fossil fair - the specimen has disappeared and we will never know what
it was. There is also evidence to suggest that the collectors may have used
dynamite on the deposit.

These actions are by no means ubiquitous. Many collectors are far more
careful when collecting than geo's are and will seek advice if something
unusual turns up. However, indiscriminate collecting can destroy more that
it produces because the most important specimens are not necessarily the
most aesthetic.


cnedin@geology.adelaide.edu.au,   nedin@ediacara.org
Many say it was a mistake to come down from the trees, some say
the move out of the oceans was a bad idea. Me, I say the stiffening
of the notochord in the Cambrian was where it all went wrong,
it was all downhill from there.