Like so many things, it isn't what you do so much as how you do it. Horner is correct in saying that much information has been lost on this excavation. Bakker is correct in saying the specimens are extremely important to science. Phipps is correct in saying fossils have value. And, I am correct in saying that eastern Montana is a wonderful place to hunt dinosaurs.
I, too, grew up on a ranch, and wanted nothing more than to continue. Unfortunately, if you study dinosaurs properly, you can't sell them, and I wasn't able to keep my property while still adhering to proper paleontological ethic. I have dug literally millions of dollars' worth of dinosaurs in my life, and they are all in museums - mostly in Montana.
The science of paleontology requires proper collection and future access to any specimen studied. The problem with Phipps' collections is neither of those requirements can be guaranteed. That is why no one can write them up.
I believe there is room for everyone - amateurs, commercial collectors, and professionals. However, we have to work together if we want the best results without stepping on each other. There are non-significant fossils. There are fossils that are significant, but easily collected. And, there are fossils that shouldn't be touched unless someone is standing there who knows exactly what needs to be done for future paleontological studies. What we really need is a set of rules that addresses these issues rather than a rule that says what can be done to a fossil based on where it's located.
David Trexler, Paleontologist
Missoula News/Independent Publishing |
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