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Re: Bambiraptor (comment on Brochu's comments)
<Those who collect information with the fossils are not disreputable. (To
be clear, I was using an alternative form of "wrong," which is what Eric
Lurio said). A disreputable person is one who collects fossils as
commodities and not as scientific resources, and who will not consider the
needs of the scientific community when important material comes to light.>
I've been trying to figure out how I feel about a hypothetical situation.
Imagine a place where fossils are weathering out of the ground and being
destroyed. An expedition from a museum is not coming, at least for a long
time. Selling or exporting fossils in the country containing the site is
A commercial collector surreptitiously gathers (or pays local people to
gather) the fossils and smuggles them out of the country and sells them to
private collectors who know that they will be confiscated if discovered.
The location and attendant information are not documented because that would
be evidence. The fossils cannot be studied by paleontologists.
Certainly, in this case the fossils might as well not have been gathered as
far as science is concerned. Is the problem the existence of the collector
or the complete illegality of gathering the fossils? Given that the fossils
would simply disappear if not for the unofficial collection, is the solution
greater enforcement or some kind of licensing procedure with requirements
for documentation and availability for study?
Fossils are a legitimate part of a country's history and private control
reduces fossils' value to science, so I wish I could advocate restrictions.
But if the alternative is simply loss...
Also, I was concerned about the observation in another post that many of the
late-round bidders for Sue were museums. Maybe that price inflation had an
influence on the money available for expeditions? Would some kind of
cooperation in purchasing among museums be appropriate?
I'd really appreciate your views.