Monday, December 28, 2009

Chinese Black Market Fossils

From The Sydney Morning Herald comes a report on the black market trade in fossils from China:
Why the trade has grown so large is that China has become the centre of the world's fossil industry. This is not just down to China's size, but to the extraordinary level of fossil preservation in at least three large sites.

China's fossil riches face a threat not just from treasure hunters, though. In a well-intentioned effort to crack down on the black market trade - which has taken many of the best specimens into private collections before scientists even know of their existence - the Chinese Government is planning draconian new measures to prevent their export.

"There's a feeling that China is haemorrhaging fossils and people are making a lot of money,'' David Unwin, a palaeontologist at the University of Leicester, says. ''It's China's national heritage that's being lost."

But he and others are worried the new legislation will restrict ''the ability of people to collect fossils or for fossils to end up in museums".