Hello, Dear Readers!
This post is going to be part summary, part rant. This is not the first time I have commented on the commercial fossil trade (see posts here, here, here, here, and here), and it will likely not be my last. Deep down I still believe there is a magical combination of words that will finally enlighten those who support the commercialization of fossils and they will get it. They will finally get why treating the only record we have of our planet's history like organic Pokemon cards does nothing to promote science education and knowledge. They will finally understand there is more to fossils than their current market (illegal or otherwise) value. I need to believe that people truly want to understand that our irreplaceable heritage is worth protecting.
I'm not the only one who believes this. Please read this thorough commentary published recently in Palaeontologica Electronica:
Shimada, Kenshu, Currie, Philip J., Scott, Eric, and Sumida, Stuart S. 2014. The greatest challenge to 21st century paleontology: When commercialization of fossils threatens the science. Palaeontologia Electronica Vol. 17, Issue 1; 1E: 4 p;palaeo-electronica.org/content/2014/691-great-threat-in-21st-century
The article was shared on the vertpaleo listserver less than 24 hours ago, and already the predictable sniping is underway:
|For so many reasons.|
Here's the amusing part. The article was shared by the editor of Palaeontologica Electronic on PaleoNet. In anticipation of the name-calling, pseudoreasoning, and general unprofessional behavior of some of the commercial fossil trade supporters on various public forums, he wrote this (I'll write it out below, as the link doesn't seem to display the entire contents, and this link is difficult on the eyes):
"NOTE: I am not looking for brief "comments" on Shimada et al. Instead, I want detailed and well thought out statements that will contribute to a dialog on these critical topics. Please do not be hesitant to clearly stake out a position. I do, however, reserve the right to reject any contribution that I regard as impolite."
To all those who support the current state of fossil commercialism: here is your opportunity to convince us that the commercial fossil trade is beneficial. Many paleontologists have rationally and logically stated their concerns with the current commercialized system. Present a cohesive argument that details why the benefits of the current commercialized system outweigh the damage to fossil heritage resources.
I'll offer some friendly advice. Avoid the appeals to emotion and tradition. Don't paint yourselves as the downtrodden, demonized victims of the academic elite. No one will take that argument seriously because it offers neither factual content nor practical solutions. Frame your argument in terms of the fossils themselves rather than personal issues. How does the current system of commercialism benefit fossils? What is your evidence? Can you honestly see any problems with the current system, and if so, what are they? What practical changes can you envision that will allow for a greater collaboration between commercialism and conservation (I offer some suggestions here)?
In short: go productive or stay home.