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Re: Bambiraptor (=comment on comments on Padian paper)

----- Original Message -----
From: "Tracy Ford" <tlford@ix.netcom.com>
To: "Dinonet" <dinosaur@usc.edu>
Sent: Saturday, November 18, 2000 5:03 PM
Subject: RE: Bambiraptor (=comment on comments on Padian paper)

> Chris>>
> What I think needs to happen is a compromise that will be just for both
> groups. We can't ignore what the private collector has collected. To many
> new specimens and genera will be completely lost. If you piss them off,
> will never contact any one on what they have found. What about Bone Cabin
> Quarry? It's being run by private collectors. They have reported at the
> There is a new Stegosaur that was studied by Ken Carpenter and will out
> year. What about the new pterosaur from there? There are several
> that are on the up and up. The Black Hills Institute (no mater what some
> you think), Mike Triebold, the before mentioned Bone Cabin Quarry. So we
> just ignore them? That's crap.
> When I get rich (I'm working on it), I'd like to start a museum (maybe),
> what I'd have to do. Collect things and just say well, it looks kool but
> thanks to the powers that be, I can't write about it?
> We need to educate some of the collectors on how to properly collect
> Not just dig them out of the ground. Taphonomy, geology, etc is important.
> We need to come to terms with what to do when they sell the 'type' to a
> private person. ALL fossil animals are important.
> Tracy

I think Tracy may have misunderstood what I wrote.  I wrote that most
commercial collectors and amateurs do not publish on what they find, and I
wrote the following:

> I am against journals rejecting manuscripts on privately held specimens,
> because I feel it is essential to document the scientific information in
> those specimens in case they are eventually lost or destroyed.

Yes, I think that journals should publish good manuscripts regardless of
where the specimens discussed in them are.  I am at present describing some
specimens of the pterosaur Nyctosaurus that were collected by a commercial
collector and are in private hands.  The specimens are accompanied by
excellent locality data (Section, Town, and Range), by GPS data, and by good
stratigraphic data.  I even have a photo of the locality of one of the
specimens and could probably go right the hole in the ground and determine
the localaltiy to within a couple of meters.  If we were to prohibit
publication of the descriptions, then our science could not use that new
information provided by the specimens to further our understanding of
pterosaurian biology and relationships.

I think it essential that we continue to publish on scientically informative
specimens in private hands so as to document the information that they
provide in case they are lost or destroyed.  One might argue that one should
not publish on them because the owner might not permit other scientists easy
access or any access to the specimens.  However, the possibility that the
specimen may be lost, destroyed, or unavailable to scientists does not
diminish the value of the scientific information provided by the specimen
and should not diminish the value of a publication documenting that
information.  I think it makes the publication all the more valuable, more
important.  Note that specimens in qualified museums are also sometimes
lost, destroyed, stolen, or made unavailable to scientists.  Indeed the
difference in "safety" from loss, destruction, and unavailability between
specimens in private hands and qualified museums is only one of
degree--specimens are generally safer in museums, but they are not perfectly
safe.  Consider Spinosaurus--should we have prohibited the publication of
Stromer's description because it was possible that the museum would be blown
to smithereens by Allied bombers?  Doesn't the fact that the specimen was
lost make Stromer's description that much more important until such time as
Smith, et al. dig up another, better specimen?

In the end, while I fully understand the view point of those who favor a ban
on publications about specimens in private hands, I think the determining
factor should be whether the publication makes a significant contribution to
our science.

Okay, I'll get down off the soap box.


S. Christopher Bennett, Ph.D.
Asst. Prof. of Basic Sciences
College of Chiropractic
University of Bridgeport
Bridgeport, CT  06601-2449