Paleontology and the Public--The Last 100 Years
Not all is perfect, however. A very serious negative element, creationism and its spinoffsscientific creationism and intelligent design--arose again as fundamental religious groups promoted their beliefs over those of all others who accept evolution and an old earth, including mainstream religions that accept it all. The scientific community responded vigorously and successfully in court cases to ensure that only science and not belief is included in science classes. Evolution and paleontology remain targets of these fundamentalists.
Collectors created a booming business of selling fossils as objects of art as well as interest, increasing pressure to collect more and better material and driving up prices of fossils. This created concern among professionals who wish to study unique but valuable specimens. Legislation in various countries has prevented indiscriminate collecting without permits, and understandings and communication between the collecting public and professional paleontologists has worked to ameliorate the difficulties. In some cases, a real partnership exists. Perhaps even more important is the destruction of important fossil sites by private and government development. While legislation to assess and remove valuable fossils before destruction is common, many sites containing fundamental and valuable data, as well as specimens, have been lost. The public benefits by the preservation of good sites and their use in education, recreation and research.