Many are unaware of South Carolina’s footprint in the paleontology community. Even more are now scratching their heads wondering what paleontology has to do with the law. And yet, there are statutes and regulations governing the excavation, transportation, and preservation of archaeological and paleontological finds.
Novice paleontologists — or any future member of the fossilist community or their legal advisors must check state statutes and regulations before going to collect fossils or artifacts as the law in every state may vary. For example, as this article discusses, South Carolina has an unusual “Hobby License” program, permitting recreational collection of artifacts and fossils. But, before we discuss the implications South Carolina’s fossil record has had on the legality of collecting finds, we start at the beginning, 541 million years ago.