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Re: An Immodest Proposal for using paleoart to help suppress fossil poaching

Dear List,

Thanks to Greg Paul for pointing this out, and I'd like to add my full
support to this idea.

Although not in the same league as Paul, or Mr Krentz, or many other
artists who would benefit from such a proposition, I give my full
support to this idea as first and foremost a fledgling palaeoartist. I
have not had any work commissioned, and have only sold a few small
pieces at auctions such at SVP and SVPCA. This is not from a lack of
trying, my portfolio already numbers in the hundreds of pieces. There
just isn't a huge demand for palaeo-art, bespoke or otherwise.

Such a proposition would both decrease interest in the morally
objectionable practice of selling original fossils to the highest
bidder without consideration of the fossils' use to the science of
palaeontology, and increase the potential livelihoods of talented
palaeo-artists (which may or may not include myself, I am not
immodest) who are struggling to support themselves.

I too would be wary of labelling this idea with "dinosaur" whatever,
as there are not only other profitable vertebrate fossils, not to
mention popular amongst palaeo-artists, including Russian mammoths and
giant shark teeth, but this also excludes invertebrate fossils,
trilobites being an example of an often bootlegged and frequently
purchased invertebrate taxon. It might be worth getting the support of
invertebrate palaeontologists as well as those who dabble in
invertebrate palaeo-art (like myself).

Perhaps, like many other things, ignorance is one of the main factors.
We talk of those with "more money than sense" but maybe it isn't sense
that is lacking, but awareness, that such priceless fossils have to be
sourced from somewhere, and this deprives many people of their
livelihoods and valuable palaeontological data, not to mention the
stuff of museums that drags people across the world to view.

I'd be glad to contribute more to this discussion, either on or off list.

Mo Hassan
Hertfordshire, UK
The Disillusioned Taxonomist

On 20 November 2013 07:21, Armin Schmitt <armin.schmitt@uni-bonn.de> wrote:
> Hello everyone,
> As Mr. Paul said correctly, the main problem is that criminals are making a
> lot of money stealing fossils and selling them to people with a lot of money
> who have minimal ethics and a lot of ignorance. Mr. Paul also said that
> ‘Humans are hypermaterialists’ and ‘people crave collecting stuff for their
> very own’. I also think this is true.
> To raise awareness is a good way to reduce these activities but this will
> not prevent dinosaur poaching entirely.
> In this mailing list we are all trained scientists and we all understand the
> importance to study specimens which are housed in museums which are
> accessible to the scientific community. But many people out there do not
> understand that. And they do not realize that privately collecting rare
> specimens and keeping them in their drawers is harmful to science and
> paleontology in particular.
> But as long as money is in the game it will always be tempting to sell
> fossils to private collectors. But please let’s just hop on the other side
> for a minute and let us all try to see things from a different perspective:
> Just imagine you are not a scientist. You discover a fully articulated
> dinosaur. Very complete maybe even with skin impression or even in a fight
> with a second dinosaur. And you would like to give it to a museum but you
> would also like to earn money with it. You don’t want to break the law and
> you want to be a good citizen but you kinda need the money real bad and you
> would like to send your kids to college. So museums are not able to pay the
> money for such a precious specimen because their budget is always very
> tight.
> So now this person is in a dilemma. But in such a case we need to offer an
> alternative. I am not saying that it should be done the way I am proposing
> here but I would like to start a discussion and I would like to hear your
> opinion.
> Why not offer people full marketing rights of precious specimens, if they
> donate them to museums?
> So they could give the museum their complete, fully articulated specimens
> for free but as soon as pictures are taken (for books or publications), or
> if casts are made, or models, if such a specimen is lent to an exhibition,
> the donor would have the marketing rights and would have to be paid? To what
> extent I don’t know.
> I am not saying that this is a great idea. I just wonder if this is feasible
> and I would like to hear everyone’s opinion!
> Sincerely
> Armin
> _____________________________________
> Sammlungsverwalter Goldfuß-Museum
> Steinmann-Institut für Geologie,
> Mineralogie und Paläontologie
> Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität Bonn
> Nussallee 8,
> 53115 Bonn, Germany
> Phone: +49(0)228 73 4683
> e-Mail: armin.schmitt@uni-bonn.de