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Re: paleo jobs Re: Howdy peoples!

Chris Brochu said:

There are more openings for governor in the U.S every year than for
>vertebrate paleontologist.  And the U.S. has a darned excellent job
>market for vertebrate paleontologists compared with the rest of the
>world.  Prospects improve a little when you include positions for all
>paleontologists, but not by much.

>...There are some nice
>post-doctoral fellowships out there (I have one now), but these are
>temporary, and the knowledge that my current position is not guaranteed
>to be permanent is stressful.  And many universities are starting to
>kill tenure, so permanent positions may be a thing of the past.

I know that collecting vertebrate fossils is a hot-button topic.  As a
trilobitophile I am a little bit put out that bugs don't get the same respect,
but it does make them easier to collect.  Obviously there is a big market for
fossils and this means a lot of money that could go toward employing
paleontologists.  In order to discourage pirate(private) collecting on public
lands, it is basically banned unless being done for research by a sadly small
academic community.  Finds on private lands get sold to high bidders that make
it impossible for academia to compete.  In the name of scientific purity a
tremendous number of fossils are allowed to weather out and turn to dust.  Is
this really better than having private money support the digs?  In my perfect
world (hah) all fossil digs would require the supervision of a qualified
paleontologist, paying attention to all the things they are supposed to
regarding the milieu of the excavation.  Significant finds, whether from public
or private lands would need to be studied and registered.  Private collectors
could then possess the fossils, subject to making them available to qualified
researchers.  Hey, it's not as if we are talking about registering guns here.
Insignificant finds (let's not debate what those are) could be sold.  Amp up the
penalties for possessing bootleg  bones.  Would this improve the quality of
work done by private backhoe fossil strip miners?  I hope so.  Would this  make
fossils expensive?  Sure.  Would collectors still buy them?  Almost certainly.
Would this provide the bucks to open up a lot of jobs for bright young
paleontologists?  ***your answer here***