Thursday, 4 December 2008

Stone sentinels

Why aren't all these things in museums?

Almost everything in the shop comes from sites around the world where there are high quality fossils in abundance. There are not many places like this, and in global terms these fossils are still rare things, but where they can be found in massive numbers, and are easy enough to collect and prepare, then they may well be a commercially viable product. For those prepared to give it a go. Often there are considerable start up costs, and problems finding a market, etc. Ultimately, the things I sell are of far more aesthetic worth than scientific.

There exists a vital symbiotic relationship between the commercial and academic sides of palaeontology. In one direction is the provision of fresh material - the cream of commercially collected fossils almost always end up available for academic study, one way or another. Many freely donate examples that may be of scientific value. This is prompted by law in some countries, and in the interest of good relations in others. It benefits the fossil dealer to know as much about his stock as possible, too...

In the other direction - from academia to trade - should come the establishment of appropriate collecting guidelines, and active encouragement. Most museums struggle to find the time and money to mount expensive exploratory digs, and it makes sound financial sense to buy the pick of the material from those already engaged in the activity - amateur and professional fossil hunters.

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