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Re: FOSSIL OWNERSHIP



At 01:07 AM 12/14/96 -0500, Steve Cole wrote:

>... I am concerned, however, by his ideas to allow surface
>collection on public lands. First, you'd have to have an Army of
>game wardens ("fossil wardens"?) who would wander around checking to
>be sure that that fossil hunters have their fossil hunting licenses
>(which would come with two "theorpod tags" allowing only two
>carnivorous finds per season) and were within their "point limits"
>(12 points for a nodosaurid jaw, one point per hadrosaur metatarsal,
>9 points per egg). Even then, I'm concerned about what happens when
>a licensed fossil collector finds an exposed T rex skull with some
>nice teeth and decides to help himself to the teeth since he's not
>allowed to dig up the whole thing. Seems to me one of Olshevsky's
>papers mentions some big theorpod that had all of its teeth yanked
>by freelance fossil- hunting dentists.

In rebuttal-
Point 1, I said " Surface fossil collecting should be unlimited, relying on
education to bring significant specimens to institutional scrutiny.
Anything beyond tool-less surface collecting should require approval and
permit, whether for intitutions, individuals or businesses."  Nowhere did I
suggest, advocate or promote licensure of fossil collectors.  Please note,
the TOOL-LESS collecting.

Point 2, whether surface fossil collecting is sanctioned or not, an
individual is just as likely to strip a cranial specimen of teeth, provided
they are so motivated and have the opportunity.  In either case, under
existing regulation or with restricted surface collection allowed, removal
of associated teeth would be a violation.  Note that "relying on education
to bring significant specimens to institutional scrutiny" is crucial to any
system working.

Believe me, as an amateur (or to please a particular academic, avocational)
paleontologist, I want to have maximum access to fossils.  But this is
tempered with a true realization that access does not equate to the right to
collect.  I spent 3 days collecting at a world-class site.  I came home with
2 specimens.  The balance of my finds were turned over to the governing
institution after *ALL* of the specimens were reviewed.  I could have taken
many specimens surreptitiously, but that would have been a violation, not
just of the rules, but of the trust placed in me.

Kindly-

Michael