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Alberta law footnote
Yesterday I posted a fairly long message regarding the Alberta law and
fossil related legislation in general.
I want to mention one other aspect of the Alberta law that troubles
me, and which I hope is not emulated in any federal or state
legislation in the US or elsewhere. That is the stupilation that all
fossils colelcted in Alberta stay in Alberta. This is one of those
things that might sound patriotic at first, but unpon reflection is
seen to be unnecessary and even counterproductive. First, one has to
decide whether fossils are mainly things to hoard and shelter, or share
with the rest of the world and scientific community. Second, many
museums, universities, and individual researchers benefit greatly from
being able to exchange (through loan, trade, and even sale) specimens
with each other.
or example, say an Alberta museum has collected a dozen nice
specimens of species X, but has none of species Y or Z, which it needs
for research or simply wants to expand its collection. Meanwhile, a
museum in another Province or country has several specimens of Y and Z,
but none of X. What sense is there in requiring that the specimens
stay in their respective countries of origin? It not only benefits no
one, but stiffles progress, education, and public interest in fossils
and science in general. Third, any country, province, or state that
enacts such a policy cannot then expect other countries, provinces, or
states to provide fossils in a one-way direction only. Should this
catch on, the entire enterprise of science, which depends on open
sharing of information and material with others, would be undermined.
The National Academy of Science study I quoted from yesterday also
looked at this aspect of fossil regulation, and came to a similar
conclusion, stating (under Recommendation #4 on p. 4):
There is no justification for requiring that fossils be deposited in an
institution in the same state in which they are found; such
requirements discourage paleontological research."
P.S. I apologize for the chunk of disconnected text below my name on
my long message yesterday. It was a left-over from my editing, that I
neglected to delete before sending the message.
[P.P.S. I apologize also for not reading the entire message before
sending it on to the list. I should have caught that too -- MR ]