Essay topics: Private collectors have been selling and buying fossils, the petrified remains of ancient organisms, ever since the eighteenth century. In recent years, however, the sale of fossils, particularly of dinosaurs and other large vertebrates, has grown into a big business. Rare and important fossils are now being sold to private ownership for millions of dollars. This is an unfortunate development for both scientists and the general public. The public suffers because fossils that would otherwise be donated to museums where everyone can see them are sold to private collectors who do not allow the public to view their collections. Making it harder for the public to see fossils can lead to a decline in public interest in fossils, which would be a pity. More importantly, scientists are likely to lose access to some of the most important fossils and thereby miss out on potentially crucial discoveries about extinct life forms. Wealthy fossil buyers with a desire to own the rarest and most important fossils can spend virtually limitless amounts of money to acquire them. Scientists and the museums and universities they work for often cannot compete successfully for fossils against millionaire fossil buyers. Moreover, commercial fossil collectors often destroy valuable scientific evidence associated with the fossils they unearth. Most commercial fossil collectors are untrained or uninterested in carrying out the careful field work and documentation that reveal the most about animal life in the past. For example, scientists have learned about the biology of nest-building dinosaurs called oviraptors by carefully observing the exact position of oviraptor fossils in the ground and the presence of other fossils in the immediate surroundings. Commercial fossil collectors typically pay no attention to how fossils lie in the ground or to the smaller fossils that may surround bigger ones.
The reading passage argues that private ownership of fossils would be bad for both the public and the scientific community. However, the speaker in the lecture casts doubt on the claims made in the article. She mentions that the concerns in the passage are greatly exaggerated.
First and foremost, the author assumes that citizens would lose access to many fossils as private owners keep them out of public display. Also, people's interest in fossils might drop as well. Nevertheless, the lecturer indicates that the private sector would actually increase the public exposure to fossils. She further elaborates that the rife of excavated fossils would lead to affordable prices, even for the low level institutions, such as schools and libraries, which would routinely purchase these fossils for display. As a result, more individuals would encounter fossils during their visits to public places.
Secondly, the writer holds that scientists and researchers would miss out on many discoveries since the organizations they work for, such as universities, would not be able to compete with millionaires to acquire the unearthed fossils. In contrast, the professor in the lecture brings up the fact that only scientists could put value on the discovered fossils and all fossils have to go through the hands of academics before making their way to the market. Therefore, there would be no loss of data.
Lastly, the excerpt contends that commercial excavators are untrained and uncommitted to field work to document historical facts and they would not pay attention to immediate surroundings that constitutes valuable evidence. The lecture, on the other hand, states that if it were not for businessmen and companies, many fossils would have gone untapped. According to the lecture, it's better to bring more fossils to light than to leave them underground even though some scientifc data might get lost in the process of excavation.
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