[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index][Subject Index][Author Index]

Re: Minotaurasaurus controversy

The legality of a fossil's acquisition doesn't detract from any
potential scientific importance.<<<

Sorry about the hair-splitting, but as others have pointed out there's a huge loss of contextual data when fossils are stolen, so its mode of acquisition most certainly detracted from its potential scientific importance. That said, it doesn't totally destroy its scientific importance as there is still a lot of morphological data available. The issue isn't (or shouldn't be) whether or not the specimen is of scientific value...of course it is... but rather whether its scientific value outweighs potential the consequences of allowing researchers to publish on stolen specimens.

I'm not going to take a side here because A) I don't have the time today to write something with the nuance the subject deserves, and B) it would almost certainly bend the rules on discussion of commercial collecting (a line much of this discussion as been tiptoeing along) but we all need to be honest: This issue is a complicated cost-to-benefit analysis for the whole field that involves data acquisition, ethics, and how future behavior might be influenced by these publications (not least of all the economics of monetary inflation on specimens with perceived scientific value added from publication when they can still be sold).

No matter what side you find yourself on there are significant trade offs that are being made.

Scott Hartman Science Director Wyoming Dinosaur Center 110 Carter Ranch Rd. Thermopolis, WY 82443 (800) 455-3466 ext. 230 Cell: (307) 921-8333


-----Original Message-----
From: Dann Pigdon <dannj@alphalink.com.au>
To: dinosaur@usc.edu
Sent: Thu, 5 Feb 2009 3:19 pm
Subject: Re: Minotaurasaurus controversy

Quoting Dan Chure <danchure@easilink.com>:

But what if you saw a specimen described in a journal that you
suspect was stolen from Riversleigh? Alternatively, if you were
to review a manuscript and you strongly suspected the specimen was
being described was stolen, would you recommend publication in spite
the theft? Combining the two, what if you were asked to review a
manuscript and the specimen was something you were pretty sure was
stolen from Riversleigh? Would that not be an issue in recommending

Only if you think the people writing the description were directly involved in
the theft. Which is
unlikely, since fossil thieves and their cohorts tend not to want to advertise
their involvement in
illegal practices.

In fact, people might never become aware of such thefts at all if someone
doesn't publish the
material for all the world to see.

Isn't it better that stolen material finds it's way back to people who can
properly describe it? If it
ended up in private collections (or ground up for traditional medicines), then
it's scientific
importance would remain unrealised. The legality of a fossil's acquisition
doesn't detract from any
potential scientific importance.


Dann Pigdon
GIS / Archaeologist              http://geo_cities.com/dannsdinosaurs
Melbourne, Australia             http://heretichides.soffiles.com