Paleopiracy revives colonialism spat over Brazil’s fossil protections

Brazil has been home to countless groundbreaking paleontological studies in its history, yet so many of these fossils have been smuggled abroad to rich countries, yet to return

paleopiracy fossil discoveries
Almost 60 percent of papers concerning paleontological material found in the Araripe Basin were led by foreign scientists

With a number of renowned archeological sites across its territory, Brazil is a crucial location for paleontological research. Yet, when examining the data, a vast number of scientific publications on fossil discoveries in Brazil are authored by foreigners who have no links to Brazilian research institutions. And, despite legislation forbidding the export of holotype specimens — fossils used to describe a given species — from Brazil, large quantities of these fossils are now housed in museums abroad.

This phenomenon, often called “paleopiracy,” has been a known problem in Brazil for some time. But a recent scientific paper shows that the...

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