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Re: SVP Ethics statement

This is obviously a thorny problem... 
I remember when I was at the Nat. Park. in Florrissant
CO, I suggested to the rangers that they open a small
part (10m X 10m?)of their vast deposits (cubic
kilometers?) to school children who (for a fee) could
be carefully guided by a trained person through a
short course in excavation.

The fossils they found could be numbered, imaged and
posted on a museum page. The kids could then access
their fossil's image online, while the actual  fossils
could be conserved onsite. Goodwill, cash flow,
budding paleontologists, all seemed good to me. While
the practicality of such a program could obviously be
questioned, (the technological aspects are easy,
but...) I was a little surprised to see they were
quietly HORRIFIED. 

Don't know why.

--- frank bliss <frank@blissnet.com> wrote:

> While I highly respect the SVP and it members, I
> would like to express 
> the following.
> There is a serious flaw in this threads thinking. 
> Bartering/sale 
> should include both parties so any institution (like
> a museum) that 
> purchases (particularly the curators that buy or
> trade for such 
> specimens) are out in the cold. They would have to
> be since paying to 
> acquire a vertebrate fossil by anybody or
> institution supports the 
> "discouraged" industry.  I don't care how you
> present the facts it 
> turns out that way.  I am not a member of SVP but
> would support the 
> organization except for high and mighty rules such
> as these. I have 
> been a paid up card carrying member of the
> Paleontological Society 
> since 1980.   However if I collect a vertebrate
> fossil like SUE, spend 
> 30,000 hours digging and preparing it, and sell it
> to the highest 
> bidder which happens to be a museum, I too should be
> not suitable for 
> membership.   Heck, a private individual could have
> gotten it during 
> the auction so what is the difference?
> While I have never sold a fossil in my life, I have
> given hundreds of 
> Tric spitter teeth, trilobites and all sorts of
> other "common" material 
> away to children and educators. It could be argued I
> bartered my tric. 
> teeth (or squandered valuable fossils) for the
> opportunity to speak in 
> front of the group and get our children interested
> in science.  I must 
> be unable to sign up now.  (Is there anyone out
> there wanting to do a 
> statistical analysis of broken tric spitter teeth
> from an upper 
> Cretaceous microsite of Montana???  What, no takers?
> I have 
> wheelbarrows of predepositionally broken fragmented
> bone from my bone 
> bed, anyone want to fly out and collect just the
> fragmented stuff???? 
> Free lodging to any interested researcher.)
> I believe such hard and precise rules are contrary
> to the science and 
> stand on a principle (however correct in theory)
> that does not stand up 
> in the real world of acquiring rare, hard fought for
> specimens by 
> private individuals who invest time and money in
> their harvesting.  
> Many specimens would fall to weathering and be
> destroyed waiting for 
> purebred, "principled" educational researchers to
> come by and collect 
> them.  Three years of digging "scientifically
> valuable" Cretaceous 
> mammal material out of the ground on my ranch,
> publicizing it on the 
> web, sending a general letter out to all interested
> parties, has 
> brought only cursory interest from researchers who
> are understandably 
> busy with their own things.  If I wait around for
> some purebred 
> researcher to show up, the stuff would 1: not be
> found, 2: not be 
> collected and 3: not be available.  How would
> trading or bartering that 
> "scientifically valuable" material for cash or other
> material (from 
> anywhere) make a private collector different than an
> academic that 
> turned in his credit card bills to his institutions
> to pay for gas.  I 
> might just use that cash or other bartered material
> to start the 
> training of a new "purebread" academic researcher. 
> The chain of 
> custody of the rich guy that bought the fossils will
> probably evolve 
> toward a museum anyway when the old stinker dies. 
> (The loss of context 
> applies of course and is a consideration but where
> else would an 
> executor of an estate place a complete Dinosaur
> previously on display 
> in a living room.)  The difference is, a private
> collector doesn't get 
> a salary, or his gas bills paid for up front. They
> do it on the back 
> side by getting that stuff paid for after the fact. 
> If it wasn't for 
> private collectors (who can't always afford it like
> I can) to take the 
> time and money to collect and prepare fossils, much
> would be lost to 
> science. Seeing an articulated fossil on display for
> 30 years in a 
> private environment is a small price to pay to save
> the fossil from 
> loss.
> I consider myself a "purebred" educated
> paleontologist though more of 
> an spineless one except when it comes to what I
> perceive as misguided 
> ethics.  I agree only in principle to the rules and
> one has the right 
> to join or not to join SVP. Any particular
> organization has the right 
> to set up rules of membership.  I just think it is
> high and mighty of 
> the rules committee to require such things when they
> get their salary 
> and expenses paid up front.  I say again, I would
> never sell a fossil 
> but only because I made a promise to a beloved
> professor 25 years ago 
> that I wouldn't. Anything I collect will go to
> repository. Private 
> clubs are by definition, exclusive.
> I go out this globally warm northern wyoming
> afternoon in February, to 
> investigate a  "old bones sticking out of the
> ground" report by a local 
> rancher who has never let a researcher on his
> property but because I am 
> a local, I get to see it and potentially collect the
> specimen.  (Sounds 
> from the description like some rib bones in proper
> anatomical position 
> to me). We will see.  Without private collectors,
> the SVP would loose a 
> valuable resource.
> "Discourse is the essence of science", I just hate
> to see the 
> intercourse of the private collector because of a
> flawed principle. The 
> society must have a better way to deal with this
> issue than a lame 
> statement in the bylaws. I hope this discussion
> makes its way to the 
> halls of the SVP hierarchy.  All in favor say
> Aye......
> Sincerely and with respect,
> Frank Bliss
> MS Biostratigraphy
> Weston, Wyoming
> On Feb 23, 2005, at 10:36 AM, Tim Williams wrote:
> > don ohmes wrote:
> >
> >> Just curious- why only vertebrate fossils? Any
> comments?
> >
> > Probably for no other reason that this is the
> Society of VERTEBRATE 
> > Paleontology.  That would be my guess.  I would
> also guess that their 
> > attitude would be the same for the barter, sale,
> or purchase of 
> > scientifically significant non-vertebrate fossils
> as well.
> >
> > Cheers
> >
> > Tim
> >
> >
> >> don
> >> danvarner wrote:
> >> I'm taking the liberty of  reposting this from
> the
> >> vrtpaleo list. DV
> >>
> >> << The following SVP  Ethics statement on the
> sale of
> >> vertebrate fossils is
> >> posted on behalf of SVP  President Annalisa
> Berta.
> >>
> >> --------------
> >>
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