UNIDROIT implications

Chris at Mizzou1.Missouri.eduGarvie Chris at Mizzou1.Missouri.eduGarvie
Fri Jul 14 09:46:00 CDT 1995


     On perusing Sven O Kullander's UNIDROIT message it seems to me the
     status of paleontological specimens is still in a nebulous state. As a
     collector who has had to good fortune to collect in several countries,
     and I may add, spent considerable time at Solenhofen trying to find an
     Archyopteryx (without success), the status of paleontology specimens
     needs defining, and preferably specifically excepted from the
     regulations. If not, as usual with bureaucrats, the scope of their
     regulations will be expand to include items not originally meant by the
     original writers. And if paleontological specimens, why not
     minerological specimens also?

     I would ask, why would another Archyopteryx be "of immense cultural
     value"?, sure they are rare, and the first few had an interesting
     history, and a lot more will probably be found when one particular
     level is excavated, -known only to the quarry workmen. A fossil after
     all, is not like a one of a kind Goya painting, or other cultural
     artifact, there are many of them. In the case of paleontological
     specimens I would urge no extra regulations above those applying
     within the individual countries.  Many countries have regulations
     governing particular groups of fossils or areas where collecting is
     restricted and that should be sufficient. If you suprananationlly
     regulate the movement of "important" fossils across national
     boundaries, the world will slowly but surely shift to the Canadian
     system where every fossil is the property of the crown, is supposed to
     possess unique value, and collecting will be forbidden to all but a
     privileged few.

     As past president of an amateur paleontological group, whose
     publications by the way are used by professionals, I can state that
     the world would be, paleontologically speaking, a much poorer place
     without relatively free collecting (commercial operations excepted).
     With some notable exceptions, most amateur paleontological groups and
     their members are self policing (i.e. take care of the environment and
     keep within the law), report or donate important specimens to a local
     institution, and just want to peruse their hobby.




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