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Re: Fossil Ownership
It may suprise Rodger to learn that in many parts of the world, including
Australia, property rights do not extend below the surface of the ground.
Here it can vary from state to state but generally ownership of land
extends for 4 to 9 inches below the surface. If there is coal, other
minerals or fossils more than that depth below your land, it does not
belong to you but to the Crown. To carry Rodgers argument another way, what
about above ground ownership rights? Should a property owner be able to
charge planes for overflying their land? If to, at what height? 10 feet?
1000 feet? 10,000 feet? then wnat about radio waves passing through the air
above a property? Should these have to pay a levy to the property owner? I
would suggest that such a scheme would be largely unusable and this is an
absurd argument. But, the point I am trying to make is that, if there us a
case for common ownership of spac above private property, the same can be
made for space below. I am not saying this is a better or inferior way of
doing things, but it is a different way to settle the issue. And, while
Australian politics may be the the left of US politics, we are centainly
not socialists! (Well, most of us arn't).
With this different comlexion of ownership of fossils, I think that a
strong case can be made for the collection and retention of rare fossil
specimens in public collections for the benefit of all. Sure, finders
should be suitably reimbursed for their efforts, land owners suitably
compensated for any difficulties incurred during fossil removal, but the
final resting place should be public collections for the common good. Rare
fossils are a limited and valuable resource and their proper management
should not be simply driven money.
Dr Paul M.A. Willis
Consulting Vertebrate Palaeontologist
Quinkana Pty Ltd