Evaluating local geological heritage: the role of private collections in presentation of the Rab Island fossil record

Marjanac, Tihomir and Ružić, Maja and Mašić, Tomislav and Paparić, Mirko (2008) Evaluating local geological heritage: the role of private collections in presentation of the Rab Island fossil record. In: 5th International ProGEO Symposium on Conservation of the Geological Heritage and ProGEO Working Group 1 Annual Meeting 1.-5.10.2008. Rab Guidebook. ProGEO-Croatia, Zagreb, pp. 91-92. ISBN 953-6076-15-2

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Fossil collecting is a hobby which occasionally triggers disputes. Not because having a collection would be unwelcome of forbidden (though this might be a case in some countries), but because of occasional collector’ s poor practice. Amateur geologists commonly collect samples of rocks, mineral or fossils. However, some lack knowledge and/or skill and patience to extract the sample from the outcrop in a harmless way, so their visits to fossil sites by the rule end up in devastation. Those who know how to properly collect the samples and can recognize their importance may preserve valuable minerals and/or fossils which would be otherwise destroyed by natural processes or by amateur “ collectors” or vandals. Such skilful collecting may eventually yield to valuable collections which, if kept well, may serve as a decorative home element, as well as collection of a scientific value. Fossils are not equally well preserved, nor equally common. Some species are commonly preserved only as mould casts, and as such are of little scientific value, but nevertheless very decorative, so there is no point to restrict their collecting. The type specimens of rare fossils are, however, entirely different story, and it is crucial to keep sampling at minimum. Who is certified for evaluation of the geological heritage? Nobody, but trained geologists! Bureaucrats may propose regulations, laws and by-laws, but only geologists, paleontologists and mineralogists can evaluate findings and propose certain level of their protection. The fossil collecting is a hobby of several amateurs on the Rab Island, and they own many samples of fossils which document the Eocene body fauna which is rarely visible in the field. Their sampling localities are commonly located at remote places, far from walking trails and settlements, and they collected the samples only from the surface. The collections are not kept hidden from the public eye, but exposed to their visitors and guests. However, only a few know about their existence, apart from the owner’ s family members and friends. These collections certainly need a scientific study, so that proper scientific and museological evaluation could be made. One of the collections is currently under study by a graduate student from the University of Zagreb (M. R.). It contains primarily Eocene molluscs, amongst which stand-out sandstone mould casts of large turritelid gastropods. Fossils in the collection will be determined, and their adequate presentation will be proposed. This collection is already been used for the presentation of the Rab Island geological heritage, and it will serve best for that purpose also in the future. To preserve the geological heritage for the future generations, it is in the first step vital to educate local collectors and amateur geologists about the sampling techniques and basic geology and paleontology, so that they will be able of distinguishing scientifically valuable from decorative samples which make majority of findings. The second step is to establish registered collections which will be open to public and scientific community. ProGEO-Croatia in that respect can serve as a supporting organisation which can provide advice and help to all those who like geology, and are determined to have their collections well organized and preserved for the future. Local fossil collections can, therefore, serve as demonstration and interpretation centres in the geopark. They are by the rule located at their owner’ s restaurants and currently serve as decoration, but provided scientific evaluation and interpretation will educate the visitors and consumers. In this way, local private collections serve as an outreach activity which promotes and preserves the geological heritage.

Item Type: Book Section
Keywords: geoheritage, protection, collections
Date: 2008
Number of Pages: 133
Subjects: NATURAL SCIENCES > Geology
Divisions: Faculty of Science > Department of Geology
Publisher: ProGEO-Croatia
Depositing User: Sonja Borak
Date Deposited: 10 Mar 2014 11:13
Last Modified: 10 Mar 2014 11:13
URI: http://digre.pmf.unizg.hr/id/eprint/558

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