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>In a message dated 11/19/00 3:00:18 PM, firstname.lastname@example.org writes:
><< The issue isn't necessarily the existence of commercial fossil dealers as
>much as the ultimate fate of scientifically important material. If it
>doesn't go to a museum, it might as well have not been collected, as far as
>science is concerned.>>
>Nonsense! Didn't Ostrum find the fifth archaeopteryx in a private collection?
No, he didn't. It was in a museum in the Netherlands. There was one
Archaeopteryx in a private collection, but that was already known to
Ostrom. That specimen, by the way, has since vanished - the owner refused
to let scientists look at it (even when the Archaeopteryx conference met in
Eichstatt in the 1980's), and upon his death, it disappeared. No one knows
where it is now.
>Would you rather it had been sold to a lithographic company by the
>Shönhoffen[sic] quarry? In fact most of the fossils there were sold to
True. Let's hope this problem is solved.
>Most fossiliforous sites are on private land, y'know.
No kidding. I did my graduate work in Texas, which has very little BLM
land and lots of exposure on private ranches.
>Shouldn't museums have contacts with local auction houses and such to find
As long as museums have enough money to buy the specimens they need, this
would be appropriate. Since they don't (even the Field had to obtain
corporate assistance to get Sue), this isn't reasonable.
Didn't Jack Horner discover Miasaurus in a local curio shop?
>Should he have ignored it or had the owner arrested? NO!
Again, since subsequent work ended up in a museum, this is irrelevant.
>....where paleontologists could examine them!
Yes, with no locality information at all, and without any geological
context to speak of. And some of these were very likely shipped illegally
out of their home countries - most nations have rather strict laws
regarding the export of fossil resources. Examination would have done
little good, since the fossils had long been stripped of the kind of
information we really need to make anything of them. This is very tragic.
Had they been banned, they
>would have been sold somewhere else. After all if the GSA confiscated them,
>it would be stealing!!!
And if FWS confiscates illegally-sold crocodiles from pet dealers, is that
also stealing? Or how about when the cops confiscate a stolen car?
Christopher A. Brochu
Department of Geology
1400 S. Lake Shore Drive
Chicago, IL 60605