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Re: "Raymond" the triceratops



 From: AnmlPeople@aol.com
 > 
 > Art museums quite commonly exhibit works that are owned by private
 > collectors.  This has gone on for centuries,  and has proved to be an
 > eminently workable system--why should it be different for fossils?  --Merritt

The main difference is that science is based on verifiability.
Thus if a paper is published about a specimen, that specimen
needs to be available for any qualified person to examine to
check if the author of the paper missed something, or misinterpreted
something.

With art, all that is lost if the item is removed from the museum
is the ability of the public to view the item.  Public viewing
is the *least* important part of what a natural history museum
is about.  In fact fewer than 10% of the specimens in a typical
NH museum are *ever* displayed.

[If you think this is not important, look at the debates about
the real identity of that dinosaur that was destroyed in the fire
at ?Yale].

Now, this problem can be ameliorated somewhat by making plaster casts
of the specimen.  But a cast is never quite he same as the original,
since it preserves only the shape, not the color and minerology.

Also, the problem would be far more significant if this were a new
species, as the type specimen of a species *must* be available
for comparison, or it is totally useless. [The rules even require
a properly deposited type specimen now].

In this case it is likely a plaster cast would be sufficient to
capture all of the really important data, but it would be better
if the original could be kept available just in case.

swf@elsegundoca.attgis.com              sarima@netcom.com

The peace of God be with you.