San Diego Natural History Museum--Your Nature Connection[BRCC San Diego Natural History Museum: Paleontology]


Imperial Formation
Palm Spring Formation
The Ethics of Fossil Collecting

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Paleontology and Our Local Desert

The Ethics of Fossil Collecting

The fossil-bearing deposits of our local desert generally occur on public lands, either under Bureau of Land Management or State Park Service control. Collection of fossils on these lands is strictly regulated and permits are required.

In this age of explosive human population we need to realize that the pioneer mentality of our forebearers has to be tempered by thoughts of the needs of future generations. We can no longer lay claim to all we see and in the case of fossils should be content to observe their occurrence without requiring a souvenir.

I have seen areas where fossils were formerly abundant almost completely stripped of them by curious visitors. Unfortunately, in most cases the collected fossils were probably quickly forgotten or later thrown out when the collector grew tired of the clutter. Even museums need to be content in some cases to "only take pictures" and leave an area intact for future visitors. Please keep these ideas in mind during your next visit to the desert and enjoy the geologic experience

Thomas A. Deméré, Ph.D.
Curator, Department of Paleontology