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ryanc
I think to be fair in this case the mueum didnt set out to acquire these fossils - they seemed to inherit them when a collecting society shut down so that was probably why they didnt get logged in the normal way (if it was normal a century ago).
 

On the plus side they missed out on being mangled by primitive preparation techniques but on the other hand we dont know how many disintegrated in the intervening years.

 

As you say the real culprit is funding - it seems crazy to not properly fund museums yet have stated aims to encourage the sciences.

 

Regards,

 

Ryan
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ryanc
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-somerset-13353836


 

At least they turned up again - hopefully they were stored well.

 

Bit of a shame considering how rare jurassic fossil insects are - presumably a number of undescribed species amongst them?

 

Regards,

 

Ryan
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paleosworld

Interesting link. Thank's.

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clypeus
All this makes us think : how many important fossils are forgotten in the maze of the museums?
and many of these were donated by fossils enthusiasts who wanted to see them on public display!
Unfortunately in Italy this neglect is quite common.....

ITER IN PRAETERITUM
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spider
Thanks for the link. I hope this material is out on public display after the 'revamp' if its Taunton we are talking about. I was there a couple of weeks ago and the museum is closed at the moment.
Have a nice day :0)
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ryanc
spider wrote:
Thanks for the link. I hope this material is out on public display after the 'revamp' if its Taunton we are talking about. I was there a couple of weeks ago and the museum is closed at the moment.


 

I dont think so - from the sound of it a lot is in the state it was when collected in the 1800's. It was prepped with a hammer and chisel and they are now prepping it to modern standards (but only a subset of 100 - that leaves about a thousand more as is).

 

The thing I dont understand is how it never came to be recorded and catalogued - you would have thought when it first came into their posession someone would have gone through and recorded what they were receiving?

 

And to have a bunch of boxes sitting at the back of their storage area and no-one wondering what it was for a century is staggering - presumably there are other similar cases out there.

 

Regards,

 

Ryan
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spider
I was once informed about the backlog at one museum in cataloging of fossils. I think they had something like 10, 000 non marine bivalves to identify as an example, so I think these things do happen
Have a nice day :0)
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Indoscaphites
First of all, these weren't lost for mankind. They were still stored, waiting to be discovered in scientific sense, I mean by this, waiting until scientists discovered their real scientific potential.

I think all major museums have sort of 'lost' or 'somewhat forgotten' collections, some of them properly stored, some still left in the boxes or wrapped in newspaper from the day they received the collection in many years ago or excavated them.

 

The main reason that these things are able to happen is that museums are majorly understaffed, with only one or even without a true collection manager for most of the time millions of specimens.

and without skilled technicians to prep specimens.

The only way this is going to change is when the entire society is going to talk to the politicians to make more money available for collection management in museums and depositories (next to making more money available for researchers to become employed and not fired after the have studied for years to build their expertise).

 

But again, as long as they do not decay and stay inside the walls of the museums, these 'forgotten' parts of the collections are still better preserved in the long term than in private collections or museums.

 

The last decades, most museologists (this is not the paleontologists) have found plastic animals better for display than the real fossils. This is something all professional paleontologists dislike, but they are not the ones that decide about exhibitions and display pieces, that is the museology dept and the directors. But it will come back, in 10 years or so, all people will dislike the plastic stuff and we will return to real fossils (except for type series, these belong into the vault).

 

The good thing about the rediscovered insect collection is that only nowadays we are able to see the real scientific importance of that particular collection. 100 years ago we wouldn't be capable of prepping them correctly or getting SEM images etc.

 

sincerely, Stijn
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acutipuerilis
Indoscaphites wrote:

First of all, these weren't lost for mankind. They were still stored, waiting to be discovered in scientific sense, I mean by this, waiting until scientists discovered their real scientific potential.

I think all major museums have sort of 'lost' or 'somewhat forgotten' collections, some of them properly stored, some still left in the boxes or wrapped in newspaper from the day they received the collection in many years ago or excavated them.

 

The main reason that these things are able to happen is that museums are majorly understaffed, with only one or even without a true collection manager for most of the time millions of specimens.

and without skilled technicians to prep specimens.

The only way this is going to change is when the entire society is going to talk to the politicians to make more money available for collection management in museums and depositories (next to making more money available for researchers to become employed and not fired after the have studied for years to build their expertise).

 

But again, as long as they do not decay and stay inside the walls of the museums, these 'forgotten' parts of the collections are still better preserved in the long term than in private collections or museums.

 

The last decades, most museologists (this is not the paleontologists) have found plastic animals better for display than the real fossils. This is something all professional paleontologists dislike, but they are not the ones that decide about exhibitions and display pieces, that is the museology dept and the directors. But it will come back, in 10 years or so, all people will dislike the plastic stuff and we will return to real fossils (except for type series, these belong into the vault).

 

The good thing about the rediscovered insect collection is that only nowadays we are able to see the real scientific importance of that particular collection. 100 years ago we wouldn't be capable of prepping them correctly or getting SEM images etc.

 

sincerely, Stijn



I second all of this. Also, most museum staff looking after local collections are not geologists, or even scientists, and have no idea of the importance of the specimens in their care. It's not their fault - the problem is understaffing, and the result that museums usually have to hire museum studies graduates rather than a host of specialists.

 

On the plus side, there are lots of stories like this one, of new discoveries in old collections. A beautiful, intelligent and talented palaeontologist of my acquiantance  (she's reading over my shoulder, yes) was doing a survey of northwest museums geology collections, and found a pair of lost holotypes of a Carboniferous scorpion and crustacean at Rochdale, and an entirely new species of sponge in Keswick.  Both are now written up and in press - papers should be out in the autumn.

 

The worst that can happen is that a small museum closes, and the specimens are either lost, neglected or even disposed of. It really shouldn't happen; there should be legal arrangements for the collection to go to either a local major museum, or a national. It's worth making sure, though, if you know of a local museum that is closing... sometimes after the curators have been made redundant, the powers that be don't appreciate the importance of adding to their troubles with the complication of making sure the collection is safe.
http://oldasthehills.proboards.com/index.cgi (For when you can't get enough trilobites, sponges, and squidgy blobs...)
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Olenus
 Some years ago i was in a antique's shop looking at cabinets. I notice a small tatty cabinet full of fossils mainly Barton shells and Lyme fossils. The labels said Lancaster Natural History Soc.
I wonder how many small private collections have been lost over the years ?
The Ace of Spades,,,







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