The United States has been a major source of scientifically significant paleontological discoveries over the course of its history. In addition to invaluable primary source material for the study of evolution and climate change, American paleontology has additionally been invoked as symbols of American power since the founding of the country. Even though fossils are prominent national heritage, the United States today only uniformly regulates their excavation and use on federal public lands through the Paleontological Resources Preservation Act. When fossils are discovered on private land, landowners and those with whom they contract often sell them to private collectors, which can lead to research quality specimens becoming inaccessible to museums and universities seeking to research or publicly display them. This Note will use the discovery and litigation over the Dueling Dinosaurs, fossils of two dinosaurs preserved in combat, as a case study to demonstrate the current futility of legal action in providing for scientific access. This Note will argue that the federal government should pass a Model Act that provides universities and museums the opportunity to appeal for a delay in the sale for scientifically significant specimens that would allow an institution to have temporary custody over the material. Such a proposal should not be subject to just compensation under eminent domain law because of the financial benefit landowners should receive from affiliation with and analysis from such an institution.
Sara K. Mazurek,
The Dinosaur in the Living Room: A Proposal to Enable Academic Access to Fossils Discovered on Private Land,
31 Fordham Intell. Prop. Media & Ent. L.J. 272
Available at: https://ir.lawnet.fordham.edu/iplj/vol31/iss1/5