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Re: Fieldwork or bust? (Was: Stenopelix valdensis)

However, today's smaller museums often suffer the added burdeon of
storage problems.  In many cases they have to "cherry pick" fossils based
on size because of practical necessity.  "It's easier to store a mouse
than a whale."  That doesn't mean that the largest fossils are abandoned
to crumble to dust in the ground.  Smaller museums usually invite in
larger museums to excavate the big stuff.

[The big East Coast museums of the 19th Century did just the opposite,
instead favoring big spectacular fossil displays at the expense of the
smaller fossils, which were usually left in the ground to be destroyed by
Father Time.]

The "collecting bias in museum collections" hypothesis is probably real
(that's just my wild guess).  But it would be hard to quantify the
magnitude of this bias, because it would vary from museum to museum.

Why do chicken coops only have two doors?
Because if they had four doors, they would be chicken sedans.
(as told to me by my neighbor's son)

On Thu, 13 Jul 2006 12:52:10 -0400 (EDT) Danvarner@aol.com writes:
> In a message dated 7/12/2006 9:56:19 PM Eastern  Standard Time,  
> df9465@yahoo.co.uk writes:
> <<  museum  collections are, by their nature, unnaturally
> biased. 'Cherry  picked'  if you like. For every
> specimen in a museum, there are probably a   hundred out
> there either in collections made by other   people
> (amateurs/private/local collectors: pick your own term
> here),  or  simply as specimens not collected and left
> in the field. this is not  the  fault of museums: they
> can only curate so many specimens, and  of  course,
> fragmentary or undiagnostic specimens are not  always
> possible or  worthwhile collecting.  >>
> That tore it. At the museum I worked with (  and  others that I 
> know) 
> everything diagnostic in the way of  vertebrates was  collected with 
> statigraphic 
> position and compass  reading. At least that's the  way it is on my 
> planet.
> The only cherry-picking I saw was done by the guys  in the black 
> hats who  
> would snatch skulls if they were in a hurry (and they  usually 
> were).  DV