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FOSSIL FRAUD AND FAKE FOSSILS

WE DO NOT AUTHENTICATE, IDENTITY OR VALUE ITEMS NOT ON THIS WEBSITE

PALEO DIRECT, INC. DOES NOT OFFER ADVICE, OPINION OR VALUE ON FOSSILS OR ARTIFACTS FROM ANY OTHER SELLER OR SOURCE OTHER THAN OUR OWN MATERIAL.  IT IS BEST TO CONSULT YOUR LOCAL MUSEUM, STATE GEOLOGY DEPARTMENT OR UNIVERSITY PROFESSIONAL FOR SECOND OPINIONS.

WE ONLY ACQUIRE NEW SPECIMENS DIRECT FROM OUR AFFILIATED SOURCES OR THROUGH OUR OWN COLLECTING EFFORTS.  THIS PROTECTS OUR CLIENTS SO THAT WE CAN GUARANTEE WHAT WE SELL WAS NOT STOLEN OR ILLEGALLY COLLECTED AND IS 100% ACCURATELY REPRESENTED.

THIS SECTION IS INTENDED FOR YOU TO MAKE YOUR OWN INFORMED DECISIONS ON THE INFORMATION PROVIDED HEREIN AND IN NO WAY CAN BE CONSIDERED A COMPREHENSIVE SOURCE AS THE DISHONEST SOURCES ARE CONSTANTLY CHANGING THEIR TACTICS AND OFFERINGS.

 

FAKE MESSEL FOSSILS
MODERN MAMMAL SKULLS SOLD AS "FOSSILS"
FAKE CHINESE FOSSILS

FAKE AMBER (and COPAL SOLD AS AMBER)

FAKE SHRIMP and LOBSTER Fossils

FAKE TRILOBITE Fossils

COMBATING FRAUD IN THE COMMERCIAL FOSSIL MARKET

Ask any scientist or museum curator and they will tell you.  Fossil fraud and fakes have become a huge problem in today's commercial fossil market.  It is of utmost importance for both dealers and collectors to be able to determine if a fossil has been faked or parts of it fabricated.  Here we have dedicated a separate section on this vital topic.

>>>   An excellent paper has been published on this topic that will provide additional information.  You can download it here.

Since there are no fossil authentication services, no respected dealer guilds to support, and no books on the market explaining how to detect fake or restored fossils, the commercial fossil market requires the practice of CAVEAT EMPTOR, or "let the buyer beware".  WARNING TO ALL WHO PURCHASE FROM DEALERS WHO DO NOT PROVIDE A WRITTEN GUARANTEE OF AUTHENTICITY.  MOST DEALERS DO NOT EVEN MAKE ANY MENTION OF SUCH A GUARANTEE ON THEIR WEBSITES, AUCTIONS OR SHOW BOOTHS.  IF A DEALER WILL NOT GUARANTEE A PURCHASE'S AUTHENTICITY WITH A WRITTEN LIFETIME AND UNCONDITIONAL MONEY BACK REFUND THEN YOU HAVE NO ONE TO BLAME BUT  YOURSELF SHOULD YOU FIND THE ITEM IS NOT AS REPRESENTED.  A GUARANTEE NOT IN WRITING IS NOT A GUARANTEE.  The fossil business is increasingly being plagued each year with better and more advanced fakes finding their way into the marketplace.  Add to this the extensive knowledge a dealer MUST possess in order to properly identify their fossils and recognize fake or altered specimens and you can see that the sale of fossils is not a task to be taken lightly.  

A FOSSIL DEALER FULLY KNOWLEDGEABLE AND WITH EXTENSIVE HANDS-ON EXPERIENCE IN FOSSIL PREPARATION, RESTORATION, REPAIR AND FAKERY IS YOUR PRIMARY DEFENSE AND BEST INSURANCE POLICY when it comes to building a fine quality fossil collection of accurately identified and authentic fossils.  What determines a "knowledgeable" dealer?  The staff at Paleo Direct is fully experienced and actively engaged in fossil preparation, repair and restoration.  To be clear - we don't just KNOW how fossil preparation and restoration is done - WE DO IT.  We operate a large, fully equipped paleontological lab on our premises.  The majority of the specimens we sell were prepared by us and every specimen we offer has been fully researched for proper identification and backed by our written guarantee of its description and authenticity.  It's not enough to brag about what equipment you have if you really just show it off for promotional purposes and fire it up once in a while for a photo op. 

We feel that the only fossil dealer that can be relied on when it comes to this topic (assuming the dealer is honest to begin with!) is a dealer who PERSONALLY knows AND HAS CONSIDERABLE HANDS-ON EXPERIENCE in actually preparing, repairing and restoring fossils.  This excludes many but many of the techniques used today to forge and fabricate fossils have become so sophisticated that without this experience it becomes dangerous "guesswork".  Many dealers have been sold forgeries by their suppliers who they thought were their "friends" only to find out the truth at the expense of their customers and reputation.  Stay away from brokers and stick with a professional supplier who has the ACTUAL fossil preparation hours under their belt if you want peace of mind.  Without this, you are trusting a stranger who is also trusting a stranger or "friend".  Sure, most fossil dealers will offer unconditional guarantees and a refund if a fossil is found to be misrepresented but don't you want to KNOW what you have without the fear of uncertainty?  It's good to check up and get second opinions on even dealers you know.  We at Paleo Direct encourage our customers to second opinions FROM THE SCIENTIFIC OR SCHOLASTIC COMMUNITY.  Obviously, from the massive amount of information we provide on this website and encourage, we believe the more you know, the better position you will be in.  

AN HONEST BUT UNINFORMED FOSSIL DEALER IS MORE DANGEROUS THAN A DISHONEST FOSSIL DEALER.  The end result is the same - you will not get what you are told you are getting but worse yet, a seemingly honest dealer does not give you any "red flags" or negative vibe so you drop your guard and in their ignorance, they sell a fake or misrepresented fossil.  THIS IS A HUGE PROBLEM IN THE COMMERCIAL FOSSIL MARKET NOW as fakes become more prevalent and sophisticated!!!


WHAT CAN YOU DO AS THE CUSTOMER?

If you feel you have been slighted by a bad dealer, one remedy is to contact any professional organizations the dealer belongs to such as the AAPS for fossils or for artifacts, the AACA.  Regarding Primitive man artifacts such as stone tools, there are several professional appraisers (contact the AACA for list) that can provide a professional opinion for a nominal fee.  As for fossils, sadly, there are no professional appraisal / identification services available.  If in doubt, the best unbiased advice you can seek for a second opinion on fossils is to ask a paleontologist or related scientist affiliated with a local museum.  Some will be happy to help.  Another valuable source is a professor within a university geology, biology or ideally, paleontology department.  While they may not be fully aware of techniques for faking fossils, they WILL know what the real specimen should look like or what it may be if identification is an issue.

Only the most experienced fossil dealers who possess necessary test and preparation equipment and who are EXTENSIVELY EXPERIENCED WITH ALL TECHNIQUES OF FOSSIL PREPARATION, RESTORATION AND FABRICATION should be trusted to know the difference when it comes to fake fossils of ANY source or type!  Very, very few fossil dealers have any more knowledge in this than the very customers that rely on them!  Do NOT be afraid to ask your fossil dealer about his or her PERSONAL and immediate experience in fossil preparation, restoration and fabrication.  If they tell you they do not PERSONALLY possess YEARS OF EXTENSIVE first-hand experience in fossil preparation and restoration, and that they are relying on THEIR "trustworthy" sources, avoid these dealers at all costs!  These fossil dealers likely have several specimens in their inventory that they have no clue as to their degree of authenticity regardless of any guarantee or assurances that they will provide you.  How could they know if they lack experience in the methods in which fossils are restored in the first place???

Ultimately, your best defense will be EXPERIENCE AND EDUCATION and that will come with time.  Learn all you can about what you collect, why it is rare, what makes it rare, what it looks like, how to spot fakes or restoration and what is the proper identification of different specimens.  If you actively purchase fossils from various sources and you do not possess this knowledge, you WILL get burned, guaranteed!  It's only a matter of time and it will be a costly education!  Remember, in the realm of collecting fossils or primitive human artifacts, KNOWLEDGE IS POWER.  Besides, you will gain enlightenment and a far greater appreciation for this hobby and your fossil collection if you know all about it.

Where there are specific issues with specific types of specimens we offer, we try to point out what to look for in the individual listing or page on this website.  We will be happy to help answer any questions on this topic BUT.... we will NOT point out bad dealers or appraise or identify your fossils for you.  That was the responsibility of the dealer you bought them from.  Go to them or have a member of the scientific or scholastic community help you.  


ANALYSIS OF TYPES OF FOSSIL FRAUD

Keep in mind that this is not an all-inclusive section but is meant to highlight some of the fraudulent types that can be encountered anywhere.  Also, as time goes on, the trends in faking and fabricating fossils changes.  It is a game of cat and mouse.  As the market becomes increasingly aware of a certain type of technique, the fossil fakers evolve and change their methods, sometimes moving into classes of fossils that were previously not plagued with this problem.  We will strive to keep this section current as these changes occur. 

A FEW TYPES OF FOSSIL FRAUDS

(click below)