The Market for Fossils

Last week, the BBC broadcast an interview with palaeontologist Jorn Hurum, who led the research into the fossil called Ida. A podcast is available from http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p003lrtc. Ida is 47 million years old and an almost complete specimen. It is believed to be an early primate, making it an important evolutionary link. The BBC interview contains a first-hand account of how he ended up buying the fossil on behalf of the Oslo Natural History Museum. The deal was initiated at a vodka bar in Hamburg where Jorn was shown several photos of Ida by a fossil dealer. Ida was initially thought to be an ancestor of the Lemur. Subsequent research shows that it was most likely to be a primate instead (although this is still hotly debated). While Jorn has been criticised for paying around $750,000 for the fossil, it must in fact be worth a lot more than that. Interestingly a number of other scientists have suggested that a “market for fossils” should not exist at all; I suppose they think of fossils as repugnant goods.

Author: kwanghui

http://kwanghui.com