Is It Illegal to Own Dinosaur Fossils?

People tend to come up with different vivid scenes whenever they try imagining how dinosaurs lived. Most of these images involved the creatures stomping and crushing their way through everything around them. There are also several movies and media productions today that depict dinosaurs’ lives and contribute to our vivid imagination of these organisms. However, until we visit a museum that houses these creatures’ fossils, we get a clear view of how they look. The excitement about dinosaurs can stir up a collector’s interest in people forcing them to crave ownership of the creatures’ remains. The big question usually is, can you legally own dinosaur fossils? The short answer is yes. You most definitely can buy these fossils from a proper and licensed source such as  

However, there are a few considerations that one needs to note concerning the laws and interests of science in dinosaur fossil ownership.  

Who Holds the Right to Dinosaur Fossils? 

Countries have different laws concerning prehistoric fossils. In the U.S., for example, bones that might have been discovered or excavated on federal/public land are considered public property. These fossils are usually held in trust on behalf of the Americans by the federal government. According to the Paleontological Resources Preservation Act, only recognized parties or archeologists who hold scientific permits can collect dinosaur fossils. Once the fossils are excavated, the collectors must store them within an area that scientists and other interested parties can access. Such areas include museums, research collection institutions, and even universities.  

The Act can also be lenient enough as far as plant fossils and invertebrates are concerned. This law allows private citizens to collect fossils in reasonable quantities on federal land and without a permit. However, these fossils collected on public land cannot be sold or exchanged later. On the other hand, privately owned land is regulated under different circumstances. There are countries where fossils found either on public or private land are considered the country’s cultural heritage. Therefore, the fossil collectors or hunters cannot sell these remains later on, and private ownership is illegal. However, in a country like America, any fossil remains recovered from private land are legally owned by the landowner.  

Therefore, if you’re an inspired fossil collector, you need to understand that prehistoric fossils’ laws vary between countries. It is your responsibility to follow all these applicable laws legislated by the country you discovered the fossil.  

Fossil Collection Ethics 

Various legal concerns need to be considered when collecting fossils. For example, one needs to seek permission from the relevant authority before excavating fossils from public land. On the other hand, excavation on public land is usually carried out by the assigned personnel. However, fossil collection involving hammering rocks in national parks or other natural beauty spots is usually discouraged and considered illegal in most cases. Fossil collectors are advised to get permission from landowners and responsibly collect, record details, and search for unusual fossil assistance. The specimen must also be labeled and cared for. These ethical practices focus on developing reliable and legal practices to collect, identify, conserve and store fossil specimens.  

Fossil Trade 

Trading fossils involves the buying and selling of these remains. It is, however, considered illegal to sell stolen fossils or specific remains that are deemed important scientific specimens and would, thus, need to be preserved in museums. Commercial fossil collectors and dealers tend to believe that various policies placed on collecting these remains go against their rights. An example of such a policy is introduced by the Society of Vertebrate Paleontology (SVP) and fully supported by the Paleontological Resources Preservation Act. This policy requires scientifically essential remains, especially but not exclusively those discovered on federal land, must be held in a museum or research institution where interested parties can access them. The trade of scientifically important vertebrate fossils is illegal unless the act of trade keeps them within public access.  

Do I Need to Report My Fossil? 

If you find a fossil, you must report it regardless of what type it is or where you found it. While you could’ve found it in your backyard, it needs to be documented and determined whether or not it can be collected as a private fossil or is too scientifically essential to be held from the public. Illegal fossil collection can stir up severe legal consequences and fines.  

Purchasing Fossils for Your Collection 

You can find many different types of fossils for sale through various channels. However, it would be best if you were cautious of the source of purchase to avoid acquiring stolen items that could land you in legal trouble. Focus on licensed and reliable sources such as to get your fossils today.  

Also Read- Benefits of Hiring a Legal Marketing Agency

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