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Cowboys, Scientists, and Fossils

[Can someone forward this to the vert paleo list as well?]

In the latest "Isis" (history of science journal):


"Cowboys, Scientists, and Fossils: The Field Site and Local
Collaboration in the American West"
Jeremy Vetter (Department of History, Dickinson College, P.O. Box
1773, Carlisle, Pennsylvania 17013)

ABSTRACT     Even as the division between professional scientists and
laypeople became sharper by the end of the nineteenth century, the
collaboration of local people remained important in scientific
fieldwork, especially in sciences such as vertebrate paleontology that
required long-term extractive access to research sites. In the North
American West, the competition between museums and universities for
the best fossil quarry sites involved negotiations with locals. The
conflict over differing conceptions of the field site is vividly
demonstrated through an examination of one site on the High Plains of
western Nebraska in the early twentieth century. This case offers a
rare opportunity to see not only how professionals regarded such sites
but also how the resident ranching family, the Cooks, attempted to
exercise leverage over the scientific fieldwork that took place there.
While the Carnegie Museum of Pittsburgh became mired in protracted
conflict with the Cooks over discovery claims and the ongoing control
of the site, the University of Nebraska and the American Museum of New
York developed more harmonious relations with the site's resident
ranching family.


Michael D. Barton
Bozeman, MT
Fall 2008: History Graduate Student, MSU-Bozeman