Fakes and fortunes
- Keith Thomson
‘Fakes and fortunes’ shows how fossils have now become big business with perfect specimens commanding high fees. This has resulted in a number of fake specimens. The Piltdown forgery of Charles Dawson fooled the scientific community in England for several years and Johan Beringer of Würzburg, Germany, was duped in the 1720s by his academic colleagues with several unusual specimens. In the 1980s, astronomer Fred Hoyle attempted to prove that the exciting ‘missing link’ between dinosaurs and birds, Archaeopteryx, was a fake, but he has been proved wrong. The case of the Chinese found Archaeoraptor proved to be a combination of several real fossils in an attempt to make money.