Fossil samples from India violate norms

Fossil samples from India violate norms
As many as 38 fossil samples collected from three mines in Gujarat have been deposited in the American Museum of Natural History in violation of ethical scientific practice, raising eyebrows among the Indian research community. These fossils — mostly tiny insects trapped inside Indian amber — were collected from lignite mines in Tadkeshwar, Valia and Vastan.

The samples were used by three European researchers from the Steinmann Institute at Bonn, Germany, and University of Gdansk, Poland, who collaborated with an Indian scientist at the Birbal Sahni Institute of Paleosciences, Lucknow, to demonstrate how Indian and European land masses were connected almost 54 million years ago. This is seen as breakthrough that has the potential to rewrite India’s evolutionary history. “The fossil material from India, on which this paper is based, has been deposited in the American Museum of Natural History, New York, USA. This is very unfortunate and not as per rules. All these specimens should actually have been deposited in an Indian organisation,” a source told DH.

Scientists at the Birla institute agreed it was a matter of concern, which raised ethical questions. The institute is likely to take up the issue through its research advisory council and governing body meetings since one of the co-authors is from the same institute.

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