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Aurelius

A source for unpolished Madagascar ammonites?

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Aurelius

Does anybody know how I could go about obtaining some ammonites from Madagascar which haven't been polished? The polished ones are extremely common and very cheap, but very rarely do I see unpolished ones. I guess they are polished before they ever go on sale - but does anybody know where I might obtain some which are unpolished? 

Oh, and without the ends being ground flat would also be a bonus!

Thanks.

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FossilDAWG

I do not know the answer to your question, but I'd like to know the same thing so I hope you'll get some responses.

 

I have heard, though, that it is illegal to export unaltered ammonites from Madagascar.  What I was told is that they have to be "improved" in some way, by polishing, slicing in two, or grinding the opening to make it look "undamaged", as a way of creating jobs in Madagascar.  I do not know for sure if this is true.  Maybe the market for unaltered specimens (probably only appealing to people with a serious interest in paleontology) as opposed to the "pretty ornamental rock" market, is too small to justify exporting unaltered specimens.

 

Don

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FossilDudeCO

I have heard what Don mentioned as well.

Basically illegal to export as found pieces.

 

I again cannot confirm this.

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StormDancer

I have also read this somewhere when I was looking for an unpolished ammonite.

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Aurelius

If that's true, it's madness - and vandalism on a massive scale. I'd pay much more for an undamaged one. I occasionally see the odd one that is 'less processed' than usual, but I want to get my hands on some as they came out of the ground. I'll post here if I do find any.

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jpc
17 minutes ago, Aurelius said:

If that's true, it's madness - and vandalism on a massive scale. I'd pay much more for an undamaged one. I occasionally see the odd one that is 'less processed' than usual, but I want to get my hands on some as they came out of the ground. I'll post here if I do find any.

The reasoning being, I assume, that Madagascar wants to prevent its fossils form leaving the country.  Maybe there are laws against it... unless you make it a work of art, then they can be exported as artwork.  This is only a guess.

 

This is exactly the situation for Alaskan natives and whalebone.  Owning and exporting whale bones is illegal for most folks.  Legal for Inuit.  So they can't sell them, but they can make art out of it, and then it is sell-able.  

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Ludwigia

JP's summed it up well. As far as I know, it's all true. The best you can get on the market are ones where only the opening has been sliced flat. I've never checked into it, but maybe it's possible to aquire unaltered ones over a scientific institution. The French paleontologists like M. Collignon were the most active there. Some Polish researchers have also recently put out a paper.

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Ridgehiker

Re Madagascar ammonites.  Be aware that when labelling specimens that , like French ammonites, the stratigraphy is quite precise in identifying specimens.  

 

Names on specimens in circulation are invariably wrong or just a general guess.

 

You can search for papers by Maurice Collignon for taxonomy. One can look at the the suture patterns to get close to a valid genus.

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FossilDAWG
2 hours ago, Canadawest said:

Re Madagascar ammonites.  Be aware that when labelling specimens that , like French ammonites, the stratigraphy is quite precise in identifying specimens.  

 

Names on specimens in circulation are invariably wrong or just a general guess.

 

You can search for papers by Maurice Collignon for taxonomy. One can look at the the suture patterns to get close to a valid genus.

I may be misunderstanding what you are saying, but (in my opinion) the stratigraphy should not be part of the species description, which means that at least in principle it should be possible to ID a specimen based only on its morphology, without knowing the stratigraphy.  If two "species" are otherwise indistinguishable except for the data that species A comes from layer X and species B comes from layer Y, I think we are dealing with a case of over-splitting.  Now for certain having precise provenance including stratigraphy is very useful for arriving at an ID, especially if you can pair that stratigraphy with species lists and restrict the range of possible IDs one has to consider.  Also I'd point out that if you have to know exactly what layer a specimen came from to identify it, that species will be useless for long-distance correlation where the stratigraphy will certainly differ between outcrops.  However there are lots of ammonite species that are routinely used as index fossils for correlation, which means it must be possible to use an ID to establish the stratigraphy rather than having to use the stratigraphy to establish the ID.

 

In a related vein, much recent work on Late Cretaceous ammonites has resulted in synonymizing many species names that resulted from previous taxonomic philosophy that regarded every tiny variation as indicating a different species.  As an example Kennedy and Klinger (2014) recently synonymized about a dozen different species with Douvilleiceras mammilatum.  It would not surprise me to discover that French ammonites have been the subject of similar oversplitting.

 

I agree that inspection of the suture line is necessary to achieve a confident ID.

 

Don

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siteseer
4 hours ago, jpc said:

The reasoning being, I assume, that Madagascar wants to prevent its fossils form leaving the country.  Maybe there are laws against it... unless you make it a work of art, then they can be exported as artwork.  This is only a guess.

 

This is exactly the situation for Alaskan natives and whalebone.  Owning and exporting whale bones is illegal for most folks.  Legal for Inuit.  So they can't sell them, but they can make art out of it, and then it is sell-able.  

 

 

JP,

 

It was also the situation in Mexico.  For a time it was legal to export the large Sphenodiscus ammonites from there (Chihuahua site, I think) but only if they were sliced and sold as art/decoration.  I don't think export of the sliced ones is allowed now.

 

Jess

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siteseer
5 hours ago, FossilDudeCO said:

I have heard what Don mentioned as well.

Basically illegal to export as found pieces.

 

I again cannot confirm this.

 

 

I'm not sure but I think the export of unaltered ammonites was allowed for a time.  I'm not sure when they became commercially available (maybe 15-20 years ago?) but I remember seeing part of a private collection of those years ago.  The collector had a wider selection of species than I have seen recently and I believe many were unpolished.  There used to be a little more of a variety of fossils from Madagascar (dinosaur teeth - someone had some shark teeth but I didn't get to see them) but now it's pretty much just polished ammonites.

 

 

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Wrangellian

I heard that Madagascar wants 'value' added to its exports for the same reason some of us up here don't want to export raw logs. We'd rather employ as many people as possible than to just export raw materials. It's called 'value added', but in the case of these ammo's I'd say it's 'value subtracted'.

 

I don't think there is any sort of 'depot' online where you can go to find unaltered Madag. ammos but I can say I have found some at rock shows and in the usual auction site, so they aren't nonexistent... I don't think I have ever seen one with an intact aperture, though - it's either broken or squared off. I prefer the broken ones just out of principle: Fossils shouldn't be deliberately damaged. Inadvertently, OK. I guess if they start employing locals to deliberately break off the apertures to make it look natural, then they've got me. (Do they all come out of the ground without intact apertures? I'd like to know)

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RJB

Hey Arelius, I too wanted some untouched fossil material from Madagascar, but gave up years ago.  They put there machines to absolutely everything is seems.   Sad really.

 

RB

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Sil

I picked mine up from a local rock and gem fair that visits town a couple of times a year from a dealer who travels to locations where he could collect specimens directly or close to the source as possible. Worth checking your local area for similar fairs and just talking to the dealers.

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