News of the WeekPaleontology

Draft Rule Threatens Fossil Excavations in China

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Science  21 Aug 2009:
Vol. 325, Issue 5943, pp. 924-925
DOI: 10.1126/science.325_924

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A large share of paleontology's most scintillating recent finds, including remains of feathered dinosaurs and primitive mammals and angiosperms, have come from China, making paleontology arguably the country's strongest scientific discipline. As the discipline has flourished, however, so has criminal activity. Fossil theft and smuggling are rampant in China, and scientists welcome tougher enforcement. But a draft regulation released this summer, intended to crack down on illicit trade, would impede fieldwork and make paleontologists more vulnerable to the whims of local officials, scientists fear.