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Fossil collecting and impacts on paleo research
The following interesting paper has just appeared.
Alistair J. McGowan and Gareth J. Dyke 2009 A surfeit of theropods in
the Moroccan Late Cretaceous? Comparing diversity estimates from field
data and fossil shops.
Geology September v. 37; no. 9; p. 843–846 doi: 10.1130/G30188A.1
ABSTRACT An unusually high proportion of large-bodied carnivorous
theropod dinosaurs has been reported from the Moroccan Late Cretaceous
Kem Kem Formation, a well-known package of North Africa vertebrate
fossil–bearing sediments. We investigate whether recorded proportions of
predator and prey taxa in Kem Kem sediments
are real, or an artifact generated by collecting biases, by comparing fi
eld data to counts of fossil vertebrates from Moroccan fossil shops. The
application of common techniques for standardizing ecological survey
data confirms that previous workers have been misled by the acquisition
by museums of specimens from commercial
collectors rather than from detailed fi eld surveying. Claims that an
unusual number of theropod dinosaurs were present in North Africa Late
Cretaceous ecosystems are likely the result of biases due to both
commercial activity and collectorship biases.