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Re: illegal fossil sales?

Splendid, splendid, Mike. Terrific! And let's not forget how Ji Qiang got
his first, what was it? Caudipteryx? In a green silk box from a fossil


Stephen Faust                   smfaust@edisto.cofc.edu

On Mon, 6 Jul 1998, Michael Schmidt wrote:

> 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