For sale: your country’s past

Another quick but important post. One of the best talks at SVPCA for me was that by Richard Edmonds on the fossil collecting code that has been developed for the Jurassic coast (abstract here). In short a plan has been developed, implemented, and is working with local professional collectors, the councils and academics working together so that the public can collect and explore the cliffs without damage to this, the professional collectors can stay in business, but important specimens are being donated or at least sold to museums so that science is benefiting as well.

This lies rather in contrast to this. Yes, that’s a lovely Nyctosaurus being sold on e-bay and not the first one either. What’s more frustrating is that this specimen has been mentioned and illustrated in the literature. Yes, under rather odd circumstances I know but still, this is a real shame. And it’s far from the only dodgy thing floating around online, I’ve already seen what look like genuine specimens of Darwinopterus for sale, not to mention the usual round of Brazilian stuff. It’s hard to take really. I know there’s lots of things that should not be sold that are being, but pterosaurs, especially good ones, are really rare in the way that a lot of say dinosaurs and birds aren’t (even though obviously all specimens have value) so it is especially bad I feel.

Ah well, if you have a few tens of thousands you’re not that attached to, pick this up and bung it in my direction please.

2 Responses to “For sale: your country’s past”


  1. 1 John the Hutch 25/09/2011 at 11:23 am

    Seller’s profile– “I am a also a pfrofessor at a local college”
    Maybe their local college would like to know about this? Just sayin…

  2. 2 Mark Witton 25/09/2011 at 5:22 pm

    I’ve pointed this out elsewhere, but it bears repeating: note that the Nyctosaurus specimen linked to here has also been substantially ‘improved’ to increase it’s appeal to collectors. With the crest reconstructed and the joins between broken elements filled in, there’s at least some prep work required there to uncover the actual fossil again or, more pessimistically, a whole bunch of data irretrievably lost. The latter will probably depend on the material used to reconstruct the skull: first-hand experience with some ‘improved’ fossils has suggests that more harm than good can be achieved when trying to remove particularly hardy, inert fillers and glues.


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