Private collectors have been selling and buying fossils, the petrified remains of ancient organisms, ever since the eighteenth century. In recent years, however, the sale of fossils, particularly of dinosaurs and other large vertebrates, has grown into a big business. Rare and important fossils are now being sold to private ownership for millions of dollars. This is an unfortunate development for both scientists and the general public.
The public suffers because fossils that would otherwise be donated to museums where everyone can see them are sold to private collectors who do not allow the public to view their collections. Making it harder for the public to see fossils can lead to a decline in public interest in fossils, which would be a pity.
More importantly, scientists are likely to lose access to some of the most important fossils and thereby miss out on potentially crucial discoveries about extinct life forms. Wealthy fossil buyers with a desire to own the rarest and most important fossils can spend virtually limitless amounts of money to acquire them. Scientists and the museums and universities they work for often cannot compete successfully for fossils against millionaire fossil buyers.
Moreover, commercial fossil collectors often destroy valuable scientific evidence associated with the fossils they unearth. Most commercial fossil collectors are untrained or uninterestedin carrying out the careful field work and documentation that reveal the most about animal life in the past. For example, scientists have learned about the biology of nest-building dinosaurs called oviraptors by carefully observing the exact position of oviraptor fossils in the ground and the presence of other fossils in the immediate surroundings. Commercial fossil collectors typically pay no attention to how fossils lie in the ground or to the smaller fossils that may surround bigger ones.
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The reading and the lecture provide a heated debate surrounding the rising privately owned fossils market. While the reading vigorously opposes this trend, pointing out several disadvantages of the proliferation of this market, the lecture disagrees with that viewpoint, saying that the benefits outweigh the disadvantages set forth here in.
First of all, the reading manifests that instead of being donated to museums, in which people can gain wide access to the fossils, fossils are now designated to be sold to private collectors. This pattern creates a great deal of difficulties for the public to observe the fossils, which can cause a significant decline in the public interest in fossils. However, the lecture casts doubt on this viewpoint, saying that the development of the fossils market indeed offers people more opportunities to possess fossils. Public school and libraries now can easily purchase fossils and exhibits them. The lecture, therefore, rebuts the argument of the reading.
Second, the reading asserts that scientists are now suffering from the threat that they can lose access to some of the most fundamental and pivotal fossils, which can lead to major breakthroughs in the history. In fact, the reading claims that wealthy and affluent private collectors can spend huge amount of money in purchasing the rarest fossils, which is out of reach for museums and universities. The lecture, on the other hand, opposes this point and says that there is a compulsory cooperation between scientists and private collectors. In order to recognize the value of fossils, the fossils must go through the hands of scientists. Therefore, it intensifies the certainty that scientists cannot miss any significant discoveries since they get access to virtually every fossils. This is another place where the lecture puts the reading under rigorous scrutiny.
Last but not least, the reading indicates that commercial collectors usually destroys valuable fossils and scientific evidence. In fact, there is a lack of interest and an inadequacy of knowledge that prevent collectors from carrying out meticulous work revealing the most about animal life in the past. Nevertheless, the lecture challenges this point and cites that it is better to have many discovered fossils than to have a majority of them remain beneath the earth’s surface. The works of commercial collectors have brought many fossils to the public interest and observation. Therefore, we should appreciate there works instead of claims them for the destruction of fossils. The lecture once again refutes the argument of the reading.
TOEFL listening discussions: What problem does the student have?