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FOSSIL COLLECTING BILLS IN CONGRESS: I've lost track. Did this ever
pass? What is the present bill, the one allowing more or less
unrestricted collecting, or the one putting collectors in the pokey?
EPANTERIAS (610): I heard about this a few years ago, even used the
name in some writing I was doing where a series of spaceships were
named for various dinosaurs and I needed one that was big and mean,
but all the current books say it is just an unusually large individual
example of an Allosaurus. I did read one place that someone was trying
to reuse the name for a newly-found big-mean theropod. Any news?
COMPETING COLLECTORS: I'm more than a little curious about this whole
idea of private collections taking fossils out of circulation.
The dino teeth and bones I have I bought from various dealers. The
most I ever paid for one was an Allosaurus tooth for $150. I have a
real problem believing that the average museum that does not have an
Allosaurus tooth and wants one could not afford $150 to buy one on the
open market. I have even more trouble believing that such small and
common fossils as this one are in any real shortage of supply.
If you're talking about really big things (vertebrae and such)
you're still talking a few hundred. Meat-eating leg bones are going for
more (a couple of thousand) but they are on the market (I know where
three or four are for sale now) and relatively few people could buy
them for that price. I also know that these particular bones would
never have been picked up if they had not been destined for a
commercial market, so the fact that museums even have a chance to
buy them would seem to depend on commercial collection being possible.
If your museum really needs a few bones, why spent thousands to
send a search party looking for them with a roll-of-the-dice determining
what you actually find, when the same money will produce a specific
result predictable in advance? Museums have to mount an expedition
(even if just to the next state) while commercial collectors live
next to the bone beds and can go out every day looking for stuff
for far less cost. If they find something BIG, they can (and it's in
the interest of their pocketbooks for them to) get a real scientist
to come out and fill out the paperwork on the find.
Just what unique fossils are being kept off the market? Sue? Ok,
she's a big gal, but there ARE a dozen other T-rexes around to study.
I'm just having difficulty figuring out how the existence of
commercial finders-of-bones is causing there to be fewer such bones
in museums. Looks to me like there are actually more available.
And I can tell you, from a phone call to the local one, that more
people have seen MY Albertosaurus tooth than have seen the one that
they have in a drawer which isn't on display for lack of space.
ARCHAEOPTERYX: I just received (today, Friday) the cast of the Berlin
specimen my wife ordered for Christmas. I am simply stunned. This is
the most incredible thing I've ever seen. I've seen other casts of
Berlin in various museums, but from no closer than 2-3 feet through
a glass display case. To actually touch it, and examine each feather
through a magnifying glass, is virtually a religious experience.
Everybody has got to have one of these.
SPINOSAURUS: I just got a 3+1/4" tooth from Morocco. It's really
something. The Wife wants me to find a CD rom of good dino pictures so
we can display each of our teeth (Albertosaurus, Allosaurus, her
favorite Triceratops tooth, and now Spinosaurus) with a nice printout
of the dinosaur itself and related facts. Any suggestions on which of
the various packages of CD-ROM-DINO stuff are the best are welcome.
STAN'S ARM: I have heard rumors that a commercial collectable cast of
T-Rex Stan's arm is being prepared for market. More when I hear it.