“How can promoting knowledge
of Palaeontology fall under
the hypothesis of incitement
to commit a crime?
It is the theatre of the absurd”


Months ago, a pleasant series of introductory booklets on palaeontology - addressed to children - to which the palaeontological finds from all over the world were attached, was distributed and sold in Italian newsstands.
In this way, with a modest expense, children are able to realize their first collection of fossils, which, almost certainly, will stimulate them to continue in their passion, if not in their studies, to collect more fossils later in life.
This is not the first editorial release on the subject. Previously, the newsstands sold several series of publications devoted to the knowledge of palaeontology, consisting of booklets with attached fossils.
In toy stores, and today also on the internet, for decades boxes of the type "Your first collection of fossils" have been sold containing a collection of various palaeontological findings that are the most immediate and persuasive invitation to learn about the history of the earth and the science that studies it - also in constant evolution - and to increase the desire to collect fossils.
In bookshops, and today also on the internet, for decades we have been able to buy introductory manuals to palaeontology, fossil guides, guides to palaeontological sites in which both the fossils themselves and their place of origin, foreign or Italian, are described with scientific and photographic detail.
On the web, it is possible to find accurate data to identify sites rich in palaeontological finds, directions to reach them and stratigraphic information to search for and collect fossils.
Often primary and secondary schools call upon experts in palaeontology, whether local palaeontologists or palaeontophiles, to give classroom lessons in order to introduce the very young to this fascinating science, still full of mysteries. Sometimes students are taken right along to palaeontological sites and guided through their first field research.
In short, it is as if a whole world of science, publishing, publicity, scholastics and education were pushing young people to enter the "Marvelous world of fossils", just to use the title of an old publication.
However, knowing the current legislation in our country concerning "the things that interest palaeontology". Moreover, reflecting on the exasperated application of the rule - often performed with real incompetence. We could provocatively argue that the behaviour of those who promote knowledge of palaeontology and passion for fossils among the younger generations falls within the criminal hypothesis of incitement to commit a crime, in addition to a series of aggravating factors.
It is clearly a Theatre of the Absurd, or theatre of derision, as the work of the theatrical genius Eugène Ionesco suggests.
It is worth mentioning the above, in order to understand how in Italy there can be a hypocrisy of the following kind. The extraction and operation of a quarry can legitimately destroy - in addition to the landscape - millions of fossils. If a palaeontological finding is made among the waste of the quarry, equal in size to those that have been destroyed because of the operation of the quarry, and that finding were then to be collected by a person, it would violate a provision of the Code of Cultural Heritage and is punishable by imprisonment and a fine.
This is our reality.
In many foreign countries, European and non-European, you can legally search for fossils with the consent of the owner of the site.
In quarries, the management grants written permits, including the insurance policy for researchers.
Does that mean that fossils can be collected and even researched in those countries? The answer is very much affirmative, but judicial practice does not seem to consider this evidence.
Italian palaeontological collecting boasts a centuries-old tradition of high scientific and public value.
How many Universities and Museums of Natural Sciences have profitable relationships with palaeontophiles today? How many discoveries in our country were exclusively made by private enthusiasts who then reported the discovery to the relevant authorities? From my professional experience I can confirm that, for example, the findings related to the presence of dinosaur remains on Italian soil (without focusing too much on the discovery of Scipionyx Samniticus, the little "Ciro", which we have to thank Giovanni Todesco for) are attributable to the knowledge and free determination of Italian palaeontophiles who then worked with universities or with the Superintendence.
Private collecting feeds research and discoveries. In this section of the site, dedicated to palaeontology, we shall aim to create juridical arguments of the statements made, along with the help of the palaeontologists themselves.
My staff and I regularly update this section with articles and analytical insights. Archaeology,
palaeontology, numismatics, but also palaeoanthropology, archiving, ancient documents and the history of collecting:

are the subjects that we cover. Always from a legal point of view, of course.
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