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Decline of Paleontology at Museum f. Naturkunde, Berlin

Dear list,

this was recently posted on the vertpaleo list. Since it is certainly of
concern for many people here I foreward it to the dino-list.

>From: "Schultze, H.P." <H-P.Schultze@MUSEUM.HU-Berlin.de>
>To: "'wirbelpal@mail.uni-mainz.de'" <wirbelpal@mail.uni-mainz.de>
>Subject: Decline of Paleontology at Museum f. Naturkunde, Berlin
>Date: Mon, 13 May 2002 14:06:09 +0200
>Decline of Paleontology at the
>Museum fuer Naturkunde, Berlin
> A few days ago, the Expert Commission built up to determine the
>future of the Museum fuer Naturkunde in Berlin deemed that:
>  "Regarding the professorship of paleontology, the problem
>arises that this subject as such has no scientific autonomy but derives from
>the objects it studies, namely fossils, and from the way it works, namely by
>expeditions and preparation techniques.  Apart from that, there is no
>specific need to separate paleontology and the other areas of biology, as it
>horizontally covers the fossilized forms of zoology and botany, while
>providing a time dimension to evolution.  It would, therefore, be better to
>base the subject of the professorship on the general research profile of the
>Museum, namely the study of systematics and evolution based on collections,
>and appoint a professor of Systematics and Biogeography (including molecular
>aspects).  This would also bring in a hitherto-lacking theoretical approach
>to the area."
> Consequently, and as recommended by the Expert Commission to the
>President of this University, the Institute of Paleontology at the Museum
>fuer Naturkunde may disappear.
> I was awarded the position of Professor of Paleozoology and Director
>of the Institute for Paleontology, at the Museum fuer Naturkunde of the
>Humbolt Universitaet in Berlin, in the summer of 1994.  My desired objective
>(and that of the University administration at that time) was to develop an
>internationally acclaimed program at the Institute, after 45 years of
>post-Second World War social and economical constrictions.
> Although the economical support once promised by the University
>administration upon acceptance of my position has gone on unfulfilled, I
>have employed a staff that is comprised of 15 professional scientists
>(professors and curators) and approximately 45 individuals (technical
>personnel, Emeritus scientists, research assistants, and graduate students).
>All positions are nationally and internationally advertised, allowing the
>University to acquire highly qualified and internationally recognized German
>and foreign professionals.
> In the last eight years, the Institute of Paleontology has expanded
>and evolved:  To name a few, we branched our research to include
>collaborative national and international efforts, created professional
>academic training programs for researchers abroad (e.g., Argentina, China,
>Mongolia, Spain, Switzerland), and organized national and international
>meetings, conferences, and special symposia in Berlin and abroad (e.g.,
>Mesozoic Fishes; IPC Sydney: Pelagic ecosystems through time) to further the
>study of paleontology.
> Included here are the major contributions that the Institute fuer
>Paleontology has contributed to the Museum fuer Naturkunde of the Humboldt
>Universitaet, Berlin:
>Original research in the fields of systematics in paleobotany, invertebrate
>and vertebrate paleontology is an important role of the Institute. In
>addition, the Institute covers the applied side of paleontology (which is
>not covered by the Institute of Systematic Zoology) such as biostratigraphy,
>paleoclimatology, taphonomy, and biofacies analysis.  In the last few years,
>360 papers and 224 abstracts were published in international scientific
>journals, alongside six published books.
>National and international postdoctoral research fellows supported by
>national (e.g., DAAD, DFG: German Science Foundation) and international
>(e.g., A. von Humboldt Foundation, Argentinian Scientific and Technological
>Research Commission, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Fulbright, Max Planck
>Foundation, Spanish Ministry of Education) institutions contribute to the
>research activities of the Institute.
>We created a scientific journal, Mitteilungen aus dem Museum fur Naturkunde
>in Berlin, Geowissenschaftliche Reihe, was initiated and four volumes have
>already been published and distributed.
>The participation of 20 countries in the active and productive group,
>Mesozoic Fishes, (developed by one member of our staff, G. Arratia) has
>produced three international meetings and two books (with a third one in
>Collaborative research projects in Vertebrate paleontology include national
>and international contributions with Argentina, Australia, the Baltic
>States, Baltic States, Brazil, Canada, Chile, China, England, France, India,
>Italy, Mongolia, Poland, Russia, Spain, Tanzania, and the USA.
>Collaborative reserach projects in Invertebrate paleontology include
>national and international contributions with Argentina, Australia, Chile,
>Hungary, Iran, Japan, Mexico, Morocco, Russia and Tanzania.
>Collaborative research projects in Paleobotany include international
>contributions with Bulgaria, Greece, and Sweden.
>Members of our staff are editors and/or belong to the editorial board of
>books and international journals.
>Collections and Curation
>It is estimated that our Institut holds roughly four million fossils,
>several thousands of which are typed and illustrated specimens.  These are
>permanent collections and are currently in the process of being
>electronically catalogued.
>Staff members of the Institute are involved in the Graduate College Program
>Evolutive Transformationen und Faunenschnitte which has been positively
>evaluated by the German Science Foundation (DFG) in 2001 with a
>recommendation to emphasize the importance of Paleontology.
>The professors and curators of this program instruct students of various
>fields, including the Department of Biology at the Humboldt University, the
>Department of Geology at the Potsdam University, the Department of
>Paleontology at the Freie University Berlin, and in the technicals schools
>of Berlin.
>Honors and Awards
>Gloria Arratia, one of our staff members, was awarded the Humboldt Prize for
>her contribution to the field of Paleontology, as well as honored as
>Honorary Member of the Society of Ichthyologists and Herpetologists of the
>U.S.A. (the largest society in these fields).  She has also been nominated
>as a Member of the Academy of Sciences of Chile.
> As documented, the Institute of Paleontology is an active and
>invaluable entity to the scientific community.  Paleontological specimens
>(e.g. dinosaurs of Tendaguru, Archaeopteryx, etc.) are the heart of Museum
>exhibits that generate interest and appreciation to the general public and
>to the advancement of scientific interest.  The statements of the Expert
>Commission to the President of the Humboldt University, concerning
>paleontology, will generate not only overall irreversible repercussions to
>the study of paleontology but are globally symbolic of the future changes to
>other fields of study deemed to have "no scientific autonomy."
> I ask you and the members of your institution to write letters in
>support of paleontology and the Institute of Paleontology, so that this
>field of study may continue to survive and thrive.  The Humboldt University
>wants to settle this matter swiftly and hurriedly, so time is of essence.
>Please fax and/or email your support ot the following German authorities
>listed below.
>Thanking each and everyone of you for your collaborations and support.
>Hans-Peter Schultze
>An den
>Regierenden Bürgermeister
>Klaus Wowereit
>Berliner Rathaus
>Rathausstr. 15
>10173 Berlin
>Fax:  XX49-30-9026-2013
>email:  Der-Regierende-Buergermeister@SKZL.Verwalt-Berlin.de
>Senator fur Wissenschaft, Forschung, and Kultur
>des Landes Berlin
>Herrn Dr. Thomas Flierl
>Brunnenstr. 188-190
>D-10119 Berlin
>Telefax:  XX 49-30-9028-450/-451
>Der Präsident
>Prof. Dr. J. Mlynek
>Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin
>Under den Linden 6
>D-10099 Berlin
>Telefax:  XX49-30-2093-2729
>email:  praesident@hu-berlin.de

Dr. Oliver Rauhut
Museo Paleontólogico Egidio Feruglio
Fontana y Lewis Jones
9100 Trelew
Chubut, Argentina
Tel: 0054 / 2965 / 420012
Fax: 0054 / 2965 / 432100
email: owmrauhut@hotmail.com