Organisers: Felisa Josefina Aguilar-Arellano1, Rosalía Guerrero-Arenas2

1Consejo de Paleontología, Instituto Nacional de Antropología e Historia, México

2Universidad del Mar, México


Fossils are known to have been integrated into some cultures as medical, magical, religious, and folkloric pieces for a long time. These insights tell us that fossils can have different meanings, including identity, and not always in a purely scientific context. The main objective of this session is to know the different meanings that fossil specimens have in society.

We encourage the discussion of the consequences of these different perceptions. In some countries, for example, laws allow the sale and purchase of fossils or fossiliferous rocks. These specimens are perceived as ornamental pieces, a kind of jewel, or a decorative slab; consequently, the appreciation of their aesthetic value trumps scientific or educational significance. Another case is when fossils are recognized as the exclusive national property of the country where they are found. The consequences involve permission requirement for research, a final deposit of specimens, and rights to future studies of the fossils.

We hope that the experiences derived from this session can contribute with elements to propose more efficient strategies to involve society in the recognition of paleontological work. Paleontologists must consider the multiple points of view of society and be able to integrate them into policies and guidelines for the conservation of paleontological resources.