Wednesday, 5 September 2012

Sept 12

Dr Alexander Kellner of Rio de Janeiro University was arrested recently with over 200 fossil insects in his suitcase at a local airport in Brazil.

What makes this especially ironic is that this deceitful doc is one of the most militant voices shouting for possession of fossils in Brazil to be made illegal.

As soon as a test case a couple of years ago found that there were no laws covering fossils and that a law concerning artifacts had been misapplied, perfidious Prof Kellner and his chums brought in a law in Brazil specifically making ownership of fossils illegal.

After organizing a whip-round with his colleagues the abhorrent academic was able to fork out a modest sum for bail, equivalent to 10 times the minimum wage.

I am told that the way it works in Brazil is that the case will be buried for some years and then the punishment will be minimal, given his social position and ability to hire a halfway decent lawyer. (…is there such a thing as a ‘decent lawyer’?...)

Dr. David Martill of Portsmouth University fingered the blackguardly boffin years ago at a public symposium at Manchester University in the 90s.  When Dr. Besterman of Manchester held up the Brazilian model as the way forward for maintaining academic control of a country’s ‘fossil resource’, he was shot down in flames by Dr. Martill, who said he had been to Brazil to study fossils and was told by Dr. Kellner that possession of all Brazilian fossils was illegal but he would be happy to sell him anything he wanted..
Bad language was employed concerning Drs. Kellner and Besterman to the accompaniment of cheers and boos.

This is all so sad and unnecessary as the fish and insect fauna of the Crato and Santanna formations are prolific and extensive.

As long as there is no incentive to get the fossils out of the ground information is lost to science and employment opportunities in a poor part of the country are lost.

One of this country’s ‘media dinosaur experts’ sold a self collected slab of bones  from the Yorkshire Coast  to the Ulster Museum for £3000 ten years ago that he identified as Pterosaur bones.  This would have been a fair price, except that it has just been re-examined by a research student and it is quite clearly a fish and by no stretch of the imagination does it have any resemblance to a pterosaur!!!

Here is another example of a specialist straying from his area of expertise:
The head of a prestigious northern museum whose expertise is Silurian pollen and spores identified a fossil bought in by a member of the public as a Dactilioceras ammonite from Dorset despite the fact that it was found in Upper Carboniferous rocks in Yorkshire!
This crafty curator explained that the Jurassic ammonite must have been dumped in the coal measures by someone trying to pull a fast one….
The fossil was actually a Gastrioceras goniotite which is a well-known zone fossil from the Yorkshire coal measures…..and you do not get Dactilioceras from Dorset but from the Yorkshire Coast!

Shortly after the publication of the Dorling Kindersley Fossils Guide in 2000, fossils that were photographed in the book started to disappear from the Natural History Museum ‘as if they were stolen to order from a catalogue’
A foreign research student was suspected at the time but none of the missing fossils were ever retrieved.
You would think the matter would have been forgotten by now but I first heard of it earlier this year in Tucson where various collectors were discussing whether they had seen the pieces in various collections.

It was also rumoured that around the same time a front of house manager had been caught with his fingers in the till.  To avoid publicity and embarrassment, he was retired with a golden handshake.