The Journal of Paleontological Sciences The Journal of
Paleontological Sciences
"Paleontology in the spirit of cooperation"
Issue #19: Winter 2024  February 10, 2024 
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Historical Articles

Trade Articles

Submission Guidelines

Fossil Ivory Ban

International Fossil Laws

The Paleontograph


China Laws pretaining to the Collection, Import,
Export and Sale of Fossil Material


While fossils have been collected in China for an unknown number of past centuries, specimens were used primarily for apothecary purposes, not scientific study. It was not until the early 1900s that specimens from China drew scientific and private interest. During the late 1980s specimens were beginning to be brought into the United States and Europe first by Chinese Nationals and later by others.

Though the UNESCO Convention created international agreements pretaining to the import and export of Cultural Items during 1970, China did not submit a instrument of acceptance until November 28, 19891, joing the convention at that time.

The first laws implemented by the government of China, that took control of paleontological materail were promulgated by Order No. 11 of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress effective as of November 19, 19822. Article 2 states in Part"...Fossils of paleovertebrates and paleoanthropoids of scientific value shall be protected by the state in the same way as cultural relics." The section fails to define "scientific value", it is vague and failed to define laws governing the collection, sale and export of any fossil material.

1. Convention on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import, Export and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property. Paris, 14 November 1970, UNESCO Legal Instuments visited 23 September 2014

2. Law of the People's Republic of China on the Protection of Cultural Relics. Adopted, 19 November 1982, visited 23 October 2014

LISTON, J. 2014. Fossil protection legislation: Chinese issues, global problems. Biological Journal of the Linnean Society, 113: 694–706.

NUDDS, J.R. 2001. Ethics, science and the trade:let's get together. The Geological Curator 7(6),191-198

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