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Desert Diary
Fossils/Attractive Nuisance


Make sure your swimming pool has a fence around it and a gate with a lock. As you know, you can be successfully sued if you maintain an unprotected attractive nuisance—a dangerous feature that by its very nature is apt to attract small children with potentially disastrous results.

Legal action may be a concept foreign to nature, but the idea of an attractive nuisance isn't. Consider caves. Paleontologists appreciate them to no end, because a cave is an excellent attractive nuisance to animals—and moreover, has a better than average chance of preserving their remains. Most animals require places to shelter from the elements, to produce their young in safety, even to eat and digest their food in peace. Caves provide those accommodations, and all sorts of animals—prey and predator—take advantage. Over the years, not only do the sheltered die and leave their bones, but owls and other predators leave numerous remains of prey animals. So why an attractive nuisance? Because the lost, trapped, and cornered form no small part of our fossil cave faunas.
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Listen to the Audio (mp3 format) as recorded by KTEP, Public Radio for the Southwest.


Contributor: Arthur H. Harris, Laboratory for Environmental Biology, Centennial Museum, University of Texas at El Paso.

Desert Diary is a joint production of the Centennial Museum and KTEP National Public Radio at the University of Texas at El Paso.