News FocusPaleontology

Altering the Past: China's Faked Fossils Problem

Science  24 Dec 2010:
Vol. 330, Issue 6012, pp. 1740-1741
DOI: 10.1126/science.330.6012.1740

You are currently viewing the summary.

View Full Text

Via your Institution

Log in through your institution

Log in through your institution


Summary

Specialists and collectors around the world have long decried the flood of sham fossils pouring out of China. But Science has learned that many composites and fakes are now finding their way into Chinese museums, especially local museums. One paleontologist estimates that more than 80% of marine reptile specimens now on display in Chinese museums have been "altered or artificially combined to varying degrees." One consequence of the fakery is an erosion of trust in museums, which are supposed to enlighten—not con—the public. Scholars, too, pay a price: They waste time sifting authentic specimens from counterfeit chaff. And a genuine blockbuster fossil can be destroyed by attempts to enhance its appeal.