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In my opinion, one of the big problems with the paper is its total lack of
locality information. The stratigraphic information or complete lack thereof,
is appalling. Quoting from the paper itself:
"The only stratigraphic information that we have is the matrix around the
specimen. This indicates a location in the Gobi Desert of either Mongolia or
The paper attempts to construct a new genus of ankylosaur. It is more
difficult to make this case when you cannot pinpoint its stratigraphic
location. If it is found in a stratigraphic layer that is much younger or
older than where you typically find other Mongolian ankylosaurs, the argument
for a new taxon becomes stronger. As it stands we have no idea where this
thing comes from (might as well be the moon). Is it not possible that it is an
ontogenetic stage of or different variation of some other already described
taxon? Again good stratigraphic data could help falsify something?!
Ok..onto the issue of it possibly/likely being a hot specimen and whether it
should be published or not. I am an ex-cop and if this was a court of law and
this specimen was attempted to be entered as evidence, the judge would throw it
out before the jury could even see it. When evidence is entered in a court of
law it has to have a proper chain of evidence. A police officer collects
evidence at an arrest or crime scene. It is bagged, sealed, initialed, dated,
etc then turned over to the evidence officer. The evidence officer repeats the
process and places it in a secure locker that only he/she has a key to. Then
the evidence officer removes the object and takes it to the State Crime lab.
An officer at the crime lab takes the evidence, signs for it, dates it, etc and
then tests it (fingerprints, drugs, DNA, or whatever). When the Crime lab
officer is done, he/she rebags the evidence, initials it, dates it, seals it,
etc then signs the report. The evidence officer picks up the
evidence, repeating the process then takes it to the States Attorney who is
prosecuting the case, who in turn repeats the chain. Then the States Attorney
enters it into evidence for the court with a proper chain of evidence, with the
arresting officer, evidence officer, and crime lab officer all testifying to
its integrity. There is no taint of illegality or doubt in this process.
In my mind this is analogous to the real scientific process that should go on
for all peer reviewed articles. A legitimate, legal specimen with solid
locality data with no taint whatsoever. Of course the scientific community
should demand that all specimens are legally obtained, because the taint of
illegal specimens raises doubt over the whole process. We call it fruits of
the poison tree in cop-land. Hope this puts it in perspective.
Quoting Tim Williams <firstname.lastname@example.org>:
> Paper sparks fossil fury
> Palaeontologists criticize publication of specimen with questionable origin.
> Rex Dalton
> Palaeontologists are criticizing a new article on an armoured dinosaur fossil
> because the 80-million-year-old specimen may have been taken illegally from
> the Gobi Desert. The prominent California neuroscientist who purchased the
> fossil five years ago says he will send it back, to China or Mongolia, if
> someone can demonstrate that laws were indeed broken.
I don't understand the objection to publishing the description. The legality of
ownership should have no bearing on it's scientific importance.
GIS / Archaeologist http://geo_cities.com/dannsdinosaurs
Melbourne, Australia http://heretichides.soffiles.com