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Re: Second Thoughts on Sue

Ah, but there are two sides to this coin.True, a figure has been established 
for important fossils like Tyrannosaurs, but suppose the financial 
backers of this project really strike paydirt? All of a sudden putting up 
cash for fossils becomes the thing to do and museums find themselves with 
resources they didn't have before.In the 80's I formed partnerships 
between schools, the Navy, and WESTVACO corporation to find and recover 
rare marine fossils ( mainly Oligocene whales and leatherbacks 
approaching small cars in size ). Constant media coverage via local and 
national TV, and writing one or two stories for the papers every week 
served as the medium of exchange.Often, student teams trained by the 
Charleston Museum were composed of high school discipline problems that 
turned responsible in the field. ABC's "That's Incredible" took advantage 
of that angle. We collected a couple of new genera and species. The 
alliance lasted 10 years. If I were you, I'd do everything possible to 
assist new found commercial interests and interest them in new ways of 
exploiting new projects while the iron's hot.The fossil trade is real 
and they have important material commercial interests might make 
affordable. And, by the way, who put Horner onto those dinosaur nests? A 
dealer! Why I declare!.


Stephen Faust                   smfaust@edisto.cofc.edu

On Mon, 6 Oct 1997, Dictator-for-life Calvin wrote:

> > Yes, by the way, I'm happy about the Sue auction's results.  Though at the
> > same time, I'm a little worried because this might entice a few thousand
> > farmers and unskilled amatures (sp?) to go and scour for anything, and then
> > auction it off for big bucks.  Not every museum will have 8 million lying
> > around, and because of that, I'm worried....
> At the risk of getting roasted, I'm going to expound a bit on this 
> point.
> When I heard about the Field Museum getting Sue, my initial reaction 
> was one of great relief and satisfaction.  Ah , Sue, on display in a 
> North American scientific institution for the benefit of 
> paleontologists and the public.  Regardless of what I'm about to say 
> next, these are still good things, and I'm still happy about them.
> But.
> There are several things that worry me.  One is that the statement, 
> "You can't attach a dollar value to scientifically important 
> specimens," is out the window.  Now, we can debate about who said 
> that, or would say it, or to what extent it was true, but the fact 
> remains that a major American museum has set a seven-million-plus 
> figure as the going rate on tyrannosaurs.  That worries me for 
> three reasons:  first, that a "going rate" can be assessed for things 
> like this, second, that that rate was so high, and third, that a 
> museum set the precendent.
> By now I'm sure everyone is thinking, "So what?  It was an auction, 
> and *somebody* was going to pony up the seven figures."  True, but 
> suppose some other person or organization had forked out for Sue.  
> Say a foreign entrepreneur who wanted Sue for a hotel or mall or 
> mansion, and she went overseas and was never available for 
> appropriate study or display.  Then there would have been a lot of 
> outrage and indignation, and maybe (just maybe) it would be enough to 
> keep such a thing from happening again.  I'm sure that most people 
> wiill disagree, but I think that it might have been acceptable to 
> "sacrifice" Sue, by letting her get snatched up by a foreign 
> collector, in order to raise public awareness of and indignation over 
> that sort of thing.  Maybe that scenario is too unlikely or too 
> Pyrrhic for you.  *Shrug*
> Here's my point:  museums, by and large, just can't afford to fork out 
> that kind of money.  I'm worried that an exceptional, heroic effort 
> by the Field Museum and the other contributing interests will be 
> taken by some to be business as usual.
> Also, I work in a museum, and we get enough crackpots trying to 
> offload their worn sandstone "dinosaur bones" and concretion "eggs."  
> I can just imagine the sort of crap that every museum in the country 
> will probably have to put up with on a regular basis, now that people 
> know that *museums* will pay millions.
> I guess what bothers me the most is that the involvement of such a 
> prominent institution will lend legitimacy to a fossil trade that I 
> find repugnant.
> There's my two cents.  Flame away.
> "Evil is wide awake, but we're wider!"
> Matt Wedel