Research published earlier this year suggested that the only area of science that liberals and conservatives could bond over, was dinosaurs. Everyone loves Brontosaurus, right? Whatever else may be going wrong in the world, surely palaeontology is safe from the ravages of politics?
At the start of December Trump announced plans for the biggest loss of protected public lands in the history of the US. By gutting two of America’s National Monuments – named Grand Staircase-Escalante, and Bears Ears – he will eradicate over two million acres of land from government protection. These areas were designated because they contain thousands of archaeological sites, landscapes sacred to Native American tribes, virtually pristine wilderness, and unique geology.
Among the countless geological treasures, are palaeontological specimens of international importance, spanning 320 million years of life on earth. Much of this will be open to destruction if planned cuts go ahead.
But the scientists are fighting back. Almost as soon as Trump had spoken, the Society of Vertebrate Paleontology (SVP) made an announcement of their own: they are suing the President of the United States.