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Re: The problems with holotypes in private collections



At 01:06 PM 12/17/96 -0500, Dino Russ wrote:
>You hit the nail on the head Paul, that is precisely the problem. Here in
>the state of Illinois some may be familiar with the famous Mazon Creek
>fossils. Many vertebrates and soft-bodied forms (and plants) have been
>found preserved in middle Pennsylvanian siderite concretions. For years
>there has a been a fairly good cooperative program between scientists and
>collectors. But even with this system I know of several holotypes that
>remained in private hands. They were sold when the collector died, to other
>collectors who will not allow any scientist to inspect or study the
>specimens.  This is preciscely why the ICZN has these rules. So even when
>there is a good cooperative program, things break down in the security of
>holotypes that are not curated in public collections. So even if the
>collection of dinosaur material could be put into a similar cooperative
>program, these problems will develop that you mention when holotypes are
>kept in private collections.

   These are legitimate concerns, difficult to deal with I'm sure.  The cut
text mentioned that, in addition to what you said, the ICZN doesn't want
holotypes that can't be inspected, I assume because it removes the necessary
additional scrutiny required by scientific methodology.

   BUT.....

   If the choice is between A) getting an important specimen described once,
and possibly properly preserved in the process, and B) never getting it
described at all, wouldn't everybody want A?

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