The Federal Government's Visual Acuity Is Based On Movement

Fossil trafficking is a big problem in the world of paleontology. Every fossil discovered needs to be examined by experts, so it can be classified, and the fossil record can be verified by just that much more of a degree. When fossils are sold to private collectors, they disappear. Science doesn't get to benefit from any knowledge that might have been gleaned from that bone, and while "actions detrimental to science" isn't a crime, fossil trafficking is.

And thus we have the crux of the case of Sue the T-rex, and the focus of the forthcoming documentary, Dinosaur 13. In 1990, Pete Larson and a team of paleontologists discovered the most complete T-rex skeleton ever discovered, a skeleton that went on to be a world wide celebrity, and remains one of the best holotypes of the species. Trouble is, the FBI seized Sue shortly after her excavation, and what followed was a ten year legal battle over her ownership. One one side, you have the scientists acting in the name of discover, and on the other you have an ambitious land owner and an argumentative federal government.

While I would champion every movie being about dinosaurs in some way, it's especially important for stories like this to be told, to highlight the bureaucratic and very human obstacles that scientists can encounter in the process of doing their job. The filmmakers should look into the case of the Mongolian Tarbosaurus next.
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About MR. Clark

Adopting the descriptor of "successfully unpublished author", MR. Clark began writing things on the internet in 2012, which he believed to be an entirely reputable and civilized place to find and deliver information. He regrets much.


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