Legally, the fossil couldn’t be exported. “The institution of a fossil market, and issue of monitoring fossils after they’ve been collected, nevertheless, implies that all bets are off,” Dr. Boessenecker mentioned.
“New Zealand is a pioneer society nonetheless,” mentioned Richard Holdaway, a paleontologist on the College of Canterbury in New Zealand, referring to its scant authorized protections for fossils. “And if it’s there, and I would like it, I’ll go and get it.”
He added: “A few of us are working behind the scenes to enhance that safety, however it’s an extended job.”
Legal guidelines on fossil assortment differ world wide, although they’re usually incomplete or compromised by the pursuits of different teams, together with fossil merchants, mentioned John Lengthy, a paleontologist at Flinders College in Australia and the writer of the e-book “The Dinosaur Sellers.”
“Politicians simply don’t care to get a legislation in place,” he mentioned. “It’s a horrible state of affairs, however it’s simply, dare I say, the best way issues are proper now.”
For folks in Karamea, a cherished expertise is gone for good.
“You simply really feel like one thing’s being torn away,” mentioned David Guppy, who lives within the space. He added, “Even when they’re discovered to be within the improper and the fossil is introduced again — I imply, it’s not the identical.”
However with prosecution apparently unlikely, that could be a lengthy shot. “The legality — effectively, I don’t know,” mentioned Dr. Holdaway, the New Zealand paleontologist. “However ethically? It’s complete environmental vandalism.”