AMATEUR/AVOCATIONAL CONTRIBUTIONS TO PALEONTOLOGY – THE BIG PICTURE
Many amateur/avocationals are active in public outreach, do research on the specimens they collect, and publish paleontological articles, peer-reviewed papers, and even books. They collaborate with professional paleontologists, volunteer their time in museums and collections, collect ethically in the field, and communicate good sites and finds to professionals. They frequently donate exceptional specimens, and award grants, scholarships, and donations to further the science of paleontology. Fossil clubs/societies, individual collectors, and even some commercial operations all contribute to advancing the science in ways that are still under-appreciated by some professional paleontologists. Educating both academic and amateur/avocational paleontologists about the role of each other’s communities would be beneficial to both, and help to advance the science of paleontology going forward.