Dinosaur 13 doesn't unearth whole truth about paleontology and fossil protection on US public lands

In light of the film Dinosaur 13, which describes the discovery and loss of the complete Tyrannosaurus rex skeleton known as "Sue" by the Black Hills Institute of Geological Research, the Society of Vertebrate Paleontology reiterates its strong endorsement of the U.S. Federal laws and regulations that protect fossils on public lands, which are fully consistent with the professional standards held by paleontological scientists and with the ethics of the Society.

Most vertebrate fossils are rare, many of them unique. The laws and regulations for collecting fossils on Federal lands help safeguard the scientific and educational value of vertebrate fossils by ensuring that scientifically important specimens are placed in so that their story can be studied now and in the future.

The film Dinosaur 13 erroneously implies that the regulations impede paleontological science by placing onerous and confusing restrictions on field collecting. Not so. Federal law embodies the same principles and ethics adopted by professional paleontologists themselves. These same principles are part of the Society's Bylaws (Article 12, Code of Ethics). The Federal permitting process helps ensure that field collecting is well planned and professionally conducted, that the scientific context of fossils is documented, and that the fossils are placed established research repositories with a demonstrated commitment to preserving them in perpetuity for scientific research and public enjoyment.

When the skeleton of "Sue" was seized from the Black Hills Institute in 1992, that organization was already under investigation for improper collecting of fossils from . The Institute was found guilty of three felony counts relating to the theft of fossils from public lands including Badlands National Park, Buffalo Gap National Grasslands, and Gallatin National Forest. These criminal convictions from federal lands are not related to the tyrannosasur "Sue". The film Dinosaur 13 presentation of these facts is not clear, comprehensive and will undoubtedly lead to further misunderstanding by the public of this historically important case.

The legal action taken in 1992 by the Federal government eventually resulted in the preservation of this extraordinarily important dinosaur skeleton under the public trust where it is now available for scientific study and public viewing.


Explore further

Paleontologists discover the most diverse dinosaur fossil site yet found in Idaho

Citation: Dinosaur 13 doesn't unearth whole truth about paleontology and fossil protection on US public lands (2014, December 10) retrieved 27 May 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2014-12-dinosaur-doesnt-unearth-truth-paleontology.html
This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only.
0 shares

Feedback to editors

User comments

"Most vertebrate fossils are rare, many of them unique."
Vertebrate fossils are not rare, all of them are unique.
"laws and regulations for collecting fossils on Federal lands..."
This is a moot point in regards to SUE as the fossil was found on PRIVATE land within the boundary of the Cheyenne Sioux Indian Reservation that was held in-trust to the federal government.
"erroneously implies that the regulations impede paleontological science by placing onerous and confusing restrictions on field collecting. Not so."
With the passage of the 2009 omnibus bill it is now a felony (with prison time) to pick up ANY vertebrate fossil on federal land and SOME invertebrate fossils. There is little to no signage on public lands to provide a warning. That's a big risk for curious, undereducated students.
"found guilty of three felony counts relating to the theft of fossils from public lands..."
The argument in the film is that the fossils were underscrutinized in determining their value.

Dec 21, 2014
Dinosaurs are Jesuit nonsense, part of the evolution agenda being forced on humanity. The world is controlled. People have to learn about Freemasons and the Jesuit order. Evidence is key. Start examining evidence like a detective, with a critical open mind. It's only then you will see what's really going on. The Jesuit order wants Christianity destroyed, and they have invented the "big bang theory" and have pretended to launch the Hubble Space Telescope into orbit, which is also complete nonsense. There are bubbles in the water tank as they do their fake space walks. The Hubble Space Telescope is one of the biggest frauds forced onto humanity, next to nuclear weapons, and evolution/dinosaurs. When NASA finally claims that they have found life in the universe because of the chemical composition of light from a distant "planet", it will all be part of the same agenda and just another huge lie.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more