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RE: How is withholding access to published specimens ethical?



Barsbold and Perez-Moreno might not want photos of those specimens distributed, 
but how can they possibly enforce that?  Permission is an issue if you wanted 
to publish the photos in a paper, but in practice anyone can anonymously 
distribute anything online.


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> Date: Thu, 31 May 2012 13:52:56 -0700
> From: mickey_mortimer111@msn.com
> To: dinosaur@usc.edu
> Subject: How is withholding access to published specimens ethical?
>
>
> Here's an issue that's been bugging me for a while.  I can understand when 
> authors don't want photos circulating of specimens they are in the process of 
> describing, or plan to describe.  They get first dibs on their data- that's 
> fine.  But what about specimens that were found and described years or 
> decades ago?  Two coelurosaurian cases in point- Adasaurus and Pelecanimimus. 
>  Adasaurus was described in 1983(!) by Barsbold.  The holotype is mounted in 
> a museum where the public can view it, if you can afford to travel.  Some 
> people have done just that and photographed it, but the IGM and/or Barsbold 
> refuses permission to disseminate the photos.  Pelecanimimus was described in 
> 1994 by Perez-Moreno.  He's no longer doing paleontology and no longer even 
> corresponds with paleontologists, so his thesis describing it in detail will 
> never be published or distributed.  No one else is planning to describe it 
> either.  I'm unsure of whether the holotype is on display at the LH, but the 
> situation is the same.  While some people were allowed to photograph it in 
> the past (I know Perez-Moreno offered to distribute photos), now those with 
> photos aren't allowed to distribute them and I've heard even taking private 
> photos is difficult.
>
> Why does the community let this continue?  Paleontologists are quick to jump 
> on the tail of owners of privately held specimens because they have no 
> guarantee of being accessable, but I've yet to hear any outcry regarding 
> Adasaurus or Pelecanimimus.  Shouldn't we denounce this practice and those 
> who engage in it?  What possible excuse could justify it?  Even if it's going 
> to be redescribed (as Kubota may be doing for Adasaurus), surely Barsbold 
> lost all claim to keep Adasaurus to himself when he decided to publish it in 
> his 1983 monograph, and even more surely when he let almost thirty years go 
> by without describing it in detail.
>
> I can only think of a couple reasons.  One, maybe Barsbold's such a big name 
> in the field that others let it slide.  But that's not the case for 
> Perez-Moreno, and he's not even responsible for the specimen anymore, so that 
> doesn't work.  Two, maybe the coelurosaur workers who care and have clout all 
> managed to get data behind the scenes or firsthand, in which case I'd say 
> they're selfish for letting the practice to continue just because they 
> themselves can get past it.
>
> I'd be interested to hear others' thoughts.
>
> Mickey Mortimer
>