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>>> <ELurio@aol.com> 11/16/00 09:27AM >>>
In a message dated 11/16/00 9:22:01 AM, email@example.com writes:
<< The circumstances under which "Bambiraptor" and other
specimens are collected raise serious ethical questions for
many paleontologists. A number of prominent paleontologists
refused to attend the Florida conference, even after repeated
entreaty, because they had questions about the ethics of
celebrating commercially collected specimens of uncertain
provenience and ownership. >>
>In other words, they think that only THEY should be allowed to dig fossils.
If it wasn't for amateurs and commercial interests, there wouldn't have BEEN
any paleontology. Cope and Marsh were commercial collectors and everything
they dug up were commercially collected specimens.
If you have fossils that are worthy of study, don't boycott, STUDY!
Yes, but don't foget that Cope and Marsh paid professional collectors to do the
actual digging. On top of that, they were paying folks to collect for their
specific museums! They had the teams take fairly detailed (for the time) field
reports, and then used those reports to publish on their findings. The material
they collected is, for the most part, still availabel today for scientists to
study; they were not collected for a private collection.
Cope and Marsh worked during another time. To compare what they were doing to
what is happening now is unfair to Cope and Marsh. Even if you look at
Sternberg, who sold his stuff to many different institutions, he was primarily
concerned with studying the beauty of God's creation (his inspiration for his
work), not with making money, and that seems to be the sore point for many
paleontologists - they are working for the value of the knowledge, and that
knowledge is lost when the fossils go into private collectors' hands. Since
rare fossils are worth more, the more valuable the fossil's data is, themore
expensive a fossil will be. This would put the price of another "Sue" outside
the reach of almost all research facilities. (The only reason the Field Museum
could afford "Sue" was because McDonald's and Disney put a lot of money
forward) To look at it another way, had the Black Hills Institute sold "Sue" to
a private collector (which was their right), "she" could have disappeare!
d from view, and all of the discoveries being made utilizing "her" research
would have been lost; there would be no big new dinosaur on display in the
Field, which would not have had a big push in membership or attendance; there
would not be an online paleontology prep lab in the Field, so a lot of folks
who are interested in paleontology would not have had a chance to see what
really happens there; there would not be two travelling exhibits, increasing
interest in paleontology around the country, as well as increasing memberships
and attendance revenues at several museums nationwide; and, on a personal note,
I would probably not be a member of this list, able to write and express
opinions, or (as I much rather do) read and learn about paleontology - my
museum does not have any permanent paleontological exhibits on display, so it
would view my membership of this forum as a waste of the museum's time, and
would not allow me to read this at work. As you can see, this would be a !
big loss on many levels.
Now, having said all of that, I do not believe that all professional collectors
should be banned entirely, which was discussed in my museum around the time of
"Sue"'s court bruhaha. Professional collectors do a lot of good - they collect
a large number of fossils that would otherwise weather away; they create a lot
of interest in paleontology; and they can make some tremendous discoveries and
conduct some very important research. There is some good along with the bad.
Yes, fossils would need to be sold, to get the money neccessary to continue
research, and they may need to be sold to private collectors to get the amount
of money neccessary to run some research programs; but most museums and
educational institutions would not be able to afford the prices many rare and
"priceless" artifacts would command.
As a concerned group, what each member of this list needs to do is to see the
good and the bad that comes with this issue, then decide for themselves how
best to handle the whole debate. If a concensus can be reached on this list
(which does not limit itself to professional paleontologists, but also includes
many concerned/interested amateurs and collectors as well), perhaps that
concensus can be a guide to finally finding an answer to this issue.
Well, that's my two cents worth.
Brent : )