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Re: Madagascar prospecting (was Re: illegal fossil sales?)



But importers and reptile collectors, the bad guys, get tracked down by
the Feds. Crutchfield, the biggest reptile dealer on the East Coast, lost
his business and is hiding out in the Caribbean because animal rights
activists/professional zoologists inacted hands off laws here and abroad.
He made the mistake of smuggling in a bagfull of Sanzinia ( Madagascar
Tree Boa ).Yet, in a few years the natural habitats for protected animals
will be gone. I feel there are parallels here with paleontology. Without
dealer / collectors and some reasonable agreement between them and the
professionals, most of the fossils exposed by nature will be destroyed or
simply never found.

Steve

Stephen Faust                   smfaust@edisto.cofc.edu

On Wed, 8 Jul 1998, Phillip Bigelow wrote:

> smfaust@edisto.cofc.edu (Stephen Faust) wrote:
> 
> > People did get killed smuggling reptiles out of Madagascar a few
> > years back. They were killed by police, not by the courts.
> > The country has stiff laws against smuggling and exportation.
> > The down side is that it's natural habitat is going away at an
> > alarming rate. Many species will be distroyed due to loss of habitat.
> > The question, hotly debated, is, should protected species be purchased
> > from a black market when it is certain they will be distroyed in their
> > natural habitat? Anyway, yeah, it's conceivable that death could be
> > imposed by a court for selling fossils.  Steve
> 
> This post does have a dinosaur theme, trust me.
> Except for a few parks, Madagascar is almost deforested of it's
> originally thick semi-tropical forests, which used to cover the entire
> island.
> Farmers and ranchers have practiced the same cut-and-burn land clearing
> practiced in the Amazon, except that the Madagascarans have
> been doing it much longer.  The red soil of the island is characteristic
> of lateritic soil, a leached semi-tropical soil with few nutrients.
> Massive erosion is now common in the central highlands, and residents in the
> lower lying areas are plagued by mudslides.
>   In a strangely ironic twist, both the slash and burn land "management"
> and the fully-exposed red lateritic soil make it easier to prospect for
> fossils (apparently, the fire-blackened turf and the red soil makes
> the white fossil bones stand out even from a distance).  Scott Sampson,
> David Kraus, and Catherine Forster tangentially mentioned this in
> their _Natural History_ article of 3/1997, "Madagascar's Buried Treasure".
> It was also talked about in some greater detail in a T.V. documentary
> on Sampson et al.'s Madagascar work of a few years ago (the name of
> the T.V. show I have forgotten).
> 
> So, even though Madagascar is slowly turning into badlands, at least this
> makes it easier to find it's dinosaurs.
>                          <pb>
> 
> --
>                  Phil Bigelow
>                  bh162@scn.org
>