So since 2 November I've been waiting to see if ThinkGeek will say anything new about the (currently discontinued) hadrosaur chunks they have for sale. At the product's page, the last update from them was on the 3rd. On their facebook, no comment. On their blog, no comment. So nothing has changed. The hadrosaur chunks are still not on sale, and ThinkGeek is apparently still waiting for feedback. Or something.

What has happened since then is that a few people have weighed in on the topic. One of these is a group of people, the Association of Applied Paleontological Sciences (AAPS), which since 1978 has been

a professional association of commercial fossil dealers, collectors, enthusiasts, and academic paleontologists for the purpose of promoting ethical collecting practices and cooperative liaisons with researchers, instructors, curators and exhibit managers in the paleontological academic and museum community.

I have absolutely nothing bad to say about the AAPS. They're good people who are doing what they can to make commercial fossil collection and sales as ethical as they can be. Their code of ethics includes a line that's very similar to the SVP's Code of Ethics statement on commercial fossil sales:

Strive to place specimens of unique scientific interest into responsible hands for study, research and preservation.

So the AAPS released a press release as their response to the ThinkGeek kerfluffle. And they bring up lots of great points and they do a good job. But I gotta be critical about two things about this press release.

Advertisement

Thing I gotta be critical about #1

When ThinkGeek initially put up these fossils for sale, their sales page did not look like it does right now (did anyone screencap that page?). For one thing it mentioned that the hadrosaur chunks were "ethically secured", without going into much detail about what this meant. The ThinkGeek page is as informative as it is, right now, because professional vertebrate paleontologists commented and made ThinkGeek become more transparent about their sales. Everyone who supports commercial fossil collection and sales should be promoting increased transparency in the sales of fossils.

Thing I gotta be critical about #2

Looking around online I can see the comments that this press release is cobbled together from. I'm not saying that's a bad thing; it's totally okay to write up a press release that is assembled from bits and pieces of online comments. But what's interesting is what's been cut out from the comments.

Advertisement

For instance these three paragraphs

Are based heavily on this comment from Neal Larson, President of the AAPS, which included

Advertisement

Why'd the AAPS press release not include the part about how selling fossils (from private lands) is a right of Americans? Why'd they not include the part about how so many academic scientists in the US are promoting socialism? I want to hear more about those parts.

Or these two paragraphs

Advertisement

Which seem to be edited from the text accompanying this Facebook video.

The folks who made that video previously very generously linked to my previous article (thanks!) with the accompanying text.

Advertisement

Wait! Who are the rock Nazis? Am I a rock Nazi? I want to hear more about who the rock Nazis are.

So. Yeah. AAPS, it's a good press release. But all y'all missed the part where ThinkGeek's transparency in re: selling fossils was improved by the feedback of vertebrate paleontologists. And you didn't include any mention of socialists or rock Nazis in your press release. I think the mention of those would improve your press releases.

Advertisement

Bonus content

Paleoadventures Dinosaur Digs since you know who is selling hadrosaur chunks through ThinkGeek could you maybe ask them to tell ThinkGeek to maybe update people on whether the hadrosaur chunks are going to go on sale again? Possible customers deserve to know, because it's a right of Americans to be able to buy fossils from private land. The President of the AAPS said so.

Advertisement

Also please let me know if I'm a rock Nazi or not. My beliefs include

1) All scientifically significant fossils should be in museums
2) Private fossil collecting has put many scientifically significant fossils into museums. That's good.
3) It's also put scientifically significant fossils not into museums. That's bad.
4) That's why I'm conflicted about private fossil collecting

Is being conflicted a sign of being a rock Nazi?