Jurassic Park for Sale

One bright day last September, Icarosaurus, the famous fossil of a Triassic Age gliding reptile, which had exited the halls of the American Museum of Natural History a decade earlier, was brought back to New York to roost. Its return was a wake-up call for public education and science everywhere. Unless action is taken, fossils will continue to be sold to the highest bidder. Sad to say, the US is not the only country with this problem.

The story begins in 1961 with three teenagers combing the New Jersey Palisades, the cliffs surrounding the Hudson River across from New York City, searching for ancient fossils. An old quarry was being widened and leveled, and the boys followed the bulldozers as they scraped away a stratum of earth to reveal fragile, fossil-bearing shale underneath. One day they found an ancient reptile with long ribs that enabled it to glide between trees.

The boys brought the specimen to the Museum of Natural History, where its curator recognized the importance of the find and named it after one of the boys. Three decades later, one of them, now a man, became sick and needed money. He asked the Museum for compensation for the fossil. When his multimillion-dollar demand was refused, he spoke of legal action and claimed the specimen was only on loan to the Museum. The papers proved him correct. So the Museum let Icarosaurus go.

To continue reading, please log in or enter your email address.

To read this article from our archive, please log in or register now. After entering your email, you'll have access to two free articles from our archive every month. For unlimited access to Project Syndicate, subscribe now.

required

By proceeding, you agree to our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy, which describes the personal data we collect and how we use it.

Log in

http://prosyn.org/Bk1kzaf;

Cookies and Privacy

We use cookies to improve your experience on our website. To find out more, read our updated cookie policy and privacy policy.