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Re: illegal fossil sales?



As a commercial fossil dealer I understand the regulations concerning the
sales of prohibited fossils to a better degree than most academics.  

To put it simply, China does a piss-poor job of protecting things.  Yes, it
is actually punishable by death to remove dino eggs out of China.  Does
that stop it from happening; no.

For everyone of those beautiful Confusciousornis birds that is collected,
10 are destroyed in the process.  Chenjiang material is readily available
for purchase even though the government has purchased the site.

Two Chinese dealers I know deal in such pieces.  One of which was caught on
television on a sting where he illegally purchased eggs.  He was back in
mainland China 3 months later bringing another shipment out.

The problem is that Chinese officials are easily bribed.  With the
exception of the Stone Company, I can say with almost 100% certainty that
almost all of the eggs on the market are illegally exported from China,
unless they were exported prior to 1993(?).  One of the dealers I know is
former military, as are his employees.

(As far as I am aware)There are no laws regarding the importation of these
items into the USA, only theur export from China.

If fossils are denied on the market place, their value goes up, and pretty
soon a peasant working in China realises that he can make a month's salary
selling one of these things, so what do you think he is going to do?

I will probably get a lot of flack from people for saying this, but....,
there has to be cooperation between governments/academics, and commercial
collecters/sellers.  I am responsible when it comes to my dealings. 
Important new specimens are either sold or donated to museums or academics,
or they are leant until the proper study on the piece can be completed.

Scientifically important specimens should belong to science first and
foremost, but science should not be allowed to own everything.  That
attitude is what pushes the price of fossils up, and keeps the smuggling
trade going.

The Smiithsonian has (so I am told) 10,000 marellas from the Burgess Shale.
 Do you think that more than 10% of those are not duplicated somewhere in
their collection?  As a result of prohibitive collecting laws such as this,
more marellas are lost every year to mountain goat crap, and to oxidation
than are ever collected, either academically or commercially.

I believe wholeheartedly in the pursuit of scientific knowledge, but let's
be realistic.  When villagers use dinosaur eggs as building blocks in walls
because they are so plentiful, is there really no room for some type of
sales, and an end to smuggling?

Michael Schmidt 


----------
> From: Betty Cunningham <bettyc@flyinggoat.com>
> To: dinosaur@usc.edu
> Subject: illegal fossil sales?
> Date: Monday, July 06, 1998 6:40 PM
> 
> If it is illegal to export Chinese fossils from the
> Caudipteryx/Sinosauropteryx/Confuciornis locality, what should one do if
> one finds someone selling fossils from said locality?
> 
> Is there someone the SVP is working with to help crack down on this
> theft?
> 
> -Betty Cunningham