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Re: Private holotypes



At 03:01 AM 12/16/96 -0500, Gothgrrl@aol.com wrote:

>> So if "Sinosauropteryx" was in a Japanese businessman's private
>> collection, analyses should not be published?
>
>Sorry, "nuts" or not, I think you'd find an awful lot of VPs more than just a
>little uncomfortable with the idea of describing a holotype that's going to
>wind up residing in someone's house, office, vault, etc. Having described one
>new vert taxon myself, I can say I would not do it. That is not to say that
>the scientific community should not make note of the material and seek
>additional specimens of the new animal. It is not merely the knowledge that
>the fossil exists that makes it valuable, but its *conservation* in a stable
>collection, its insured (as well as such things may be insured) availability
>for generations of future VPs and technologies as yet undeveloped. All the
>casts and photographs and measurements in the world cannot replace the value
>of the actual fossil

   Are you aware of the term "cutting your nose off to spite your face?"  IF
important speciments are not being well documented, IF they are not being
well protected, it behooves the scientific community to make damn sure it is
studied and published before the fossil is destroyed.  Better yet, it should
be endeavouring to make sure that the specimen gets the protection it
deserves, regardless of where it is being kept.

   The fact of the matter is, unless the Congress and Supreme Court loses
their collective minds, you're not going to see the kind of restrictions you
want.  Better to ensure that such specimens are accessible to scientists by
working with the owner, and encouraging the owners to make damn sure the
specimen is well protected, even going so far as to helping or doing the
preservation themselves (for a fee, of course).

>and the best way of maintaining the fossil in in the hands of
>professionals.

   Perhaps if they had the time and resources to do so.  The fact is that
most institutions do not NOW, and if suddenly they were made the stewards of
ALL fossils what would happen then?  A millionaire with bucks to spare is in
a better position to pay a professional to properly preserve a fossil for
his home than is the typical museum.

[ Some comments such as those in the last paragraph make me a bit
  uneasy -- a major goal of any museum is to see to it that objects or
  artifacts are *available* for study.  That doesn't mean the objects
  have to be prepared and put on display in order for the museum to be
  doing its job.  You may not like the part that museums play in
  *curating*, but curation means a lot more than just having objects
  visible for the public at large.  Sally, this might be a good time
  for you to throw in your two cents again... -- MR ]

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