Ethics and Paleontology: Dinosaur Wars

TitleEthics and Paleontology: Dinosaur Wars
Publication TypeCase Study
Year of Publication2014
AuthorsSchmitt, J
Date Published09/2014
PublisherTeaching Geoethics Across the Geoscience Curriculum
Publication LanguageEnglish
AbstractDinosaur fossils capture the interest of students and the public, but their study, collection, and disposition often engender signficant highly-publicized controversy. As such, ethical dilemmas emerge around fossil discoveries in the realms of scientific research, including professional and personal conduct, educational and economic roles of museums, landowner rights, fossils as commodities in a capitalist economy, and science journalism. This project uses the controversy over a highly-publicized pair of dinosaur skeletons collected from private land to examine the myriad complexly intertwined ethical issues that arise from the attempt to sell these fossils at public auction for private financial benefit. Students planning careers in paleontology and geology need to be aware of these types of controversies and the ethical choices they will face.
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Audience LevelInstructor Undergraduate Student