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Robert Simon (RISI@chevron.com) writes of Kevin Padian's recent
article in _Palaeontologia Electronica_
> Padian then sets the stage for a wonderful Catch 22. His
> statements are conflicting and disturbing:
> He states:
> "There's a growing movement to recommend that all scientific
> journals reject out-of-hand manuscripts based on commercially
> collected specimens that are in private hands."
> Then he states:
> "Commercial collectors seldom publish scientific papers."
> Interesting observations. Of course, how could a commercial
> collector publish a scientific paper if all of their work was
> systematically rejected outright by scientific journals??!!
It appears you've missed the critical phrase "that are in private
hand" from your first quote. The Catch-22 evaporates if the
commercial collector places (e.g., by sale or donation) the fossil in
a public institution.
> I merely wish to point out there are two sides to a story but it
> seems the 'professionals' want only their viewpoints heard in the
> scientific journals regardless of the expertise of the 'evil'
> commercial collector.
You seem to be implying that commercial collectors regularly submit
papers for publication. My impression is that this is not the case,
but if you have statistics indicating otherwise I'd like to know of
> I would hope the academic community realizes that without the
> amateur and commercial collectors, the museums would be vast halls
> of space with few specimens.
Did you miss Padian's statements:
Let's face it: many major museums were built in the 1800s and
early 1900s by governments or philanthropists who bought
collections from all over the world or who sent people out to
make such collections. If all such objects were repatriated,
these buildings would be emptier indeed.
> I would also like to know at some point how the many tons of
> neglected jacketed material collected almost 100 years ago, buried
> in the museum storage vaults serves the public good.
If we're lucky, Sally Shelton will take some time to write about this.
In any case, the major function of museums is not display but rather
curation. If you want to argue that many specimens are not receiving
adequate care (read curation) you will probably find allies all over
the place. If you wish instead to argue that all curated specimens
should be on display you will find virtually no academic allies.
Despite the current trend of museums trying harder to compete with
amusement parks for attention and visitation, amusing people is not
the reason we created the museums you're describing.
> How many new species are waiting their turn to be found by simply
> opening up one of these old jackets?
In answer to that I'd call on everyone here to be pushy at your local
museums trying to get them to provide you with training and access so
that you can help to find such answers yourselves. Is there anyone
here who wouldn't like to learn how to contribute to science this way
and then give back by opening some of these jackets and sharing your
finds with the world? Ask not what museums can do for you...
> Time for one group to stop lambasting the private collectors and
> dealers and look within at their own practices. Might open their
> eyes a bit.
Although you claim not to be taking sides, I fear you sound a mite
partisan here. Kevin's article contained statements such as:
It is absolutely not true that museum curators and professional
collectors are always at odds. There are many examples of
cooperation between scientists and fossil sellers, who will often
donate or sell at a small price (read: finder's fee) specimens
that are thought worth preserving for the public good.
I encourage everyone here to go to the PE site and read the entire
article. I also think Frederick S. Szalay's article is a must read.
I look forward to hearing responses to that one. That looks like a
job for superheros Tom Holtz and Chris Brochu...
Mickey Rowe (firstname.lastname@example.org)