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Nova and this thread

Hello all,

The PBS show about Sue was interesting and seemed to present both sides of this 
complex issue. I enjoyed it bcause there was some digging of bones and showing 
of the same Hell Creek formation the team I am a member of digs in. Also we got 
to see the some of the bones of Sue, which we may never again, unless you're 
visiting Japan.

Someone asked how many hadrosaurian ribs "science" needs before "science" has 
enough, which was answered that "science" needs all of them for the broadening 
of "science's" base of knowledge. I would say that when "science" gets so many 
ribs in its collection, no matter the facility, and lay unseen for decades then 
"science" is not served. Those of you that do no field work cannot tell those 
of us that work our asses off to recover these bones that our efforts are 
appreciated when that hadrosaur rib is again entombed, and maybe never seen 
again. This is what I classify as refossilization, and is much sadder than 
seeing the rubble of a naturally erroded bone. At least when those fragments 
are seen for what they are someone might find more that isn't. We diggers want 
that disassociated rib to be seen, and if stout enough touched! Yes we become 
emotionally involved with those bones and beyond the "science" we love gently 
lifting them from the subtle blows of mother nature. "Science" is for and about 
humanity, after all we invented it.

I still say there should be an easily accessable liscensing program to allow 
educated and ethical collectors to enter onto public land (USA) in search of 
fossils. I do strongly feel there should be a reporting system, a followup 
survey, a regional palenotologist (maybe down to the county level) to oversee 
things, and a clear policy against the sale of rare and unusual specimens. This 
will keep fossils from rotting away, spread more fossils before the eyes of the 
world for pure enjoyment, "science" will retrive a broader data set if the 
reporting system is right, the resource will be better served and lands better 
protected if incorperated into existing land use law, and paleontology would 
become a less dicey way to use a degree. Important sites, or areas, could be 
set aside on a basis similar to mining laws. Paleontological claims if you 
will, that would establish and protect anyones work including museums. 

If a replica of a fossil is supposed to bring a collector as much enjoyment as 
the real thing I would point out that CZ replicas of diamonds don't cut it 
(ha). The warmth and luster of a real dinosaur bone is as unique as a diamond 
to me, and actually more treasured. I don't want a museum piece a holotype, nor 
do I suspect do many other of us nonpros, we that actually care about this 
"science" are happy with the bits and pieces. Is it such a high price to pay to 
allow this trivial ownership in return for the real contribution private 
collectors give to this "science".

We've made all these points before, and we seem no closer to an understanding. 
This is the saddest part of all, when we should be working to close the gap 
between acadamia and the private sector we seem to be driving in a wedge. Lest 
we make the mistake of leaving this issue in the hands of politicians, as we 
have so many other things, we need to work to bring all sides of this to an 
understanding. How? I have no absolute answer but more understanding on all 
sides couldn't hurt.

I would love to work for the BHI. Finding and extracting dinosaur fossils in 
the Hell Creek Formation is something I enjoy and do well. Until something like 
that happens I'll work with Steve and Russ in what ever capacity they need. 
Bseides, we're doin' some good work on our own. If we had the time and 
resources we could be objects of inquiry and harrassment too <grin>.

Roger A. Stephenson