Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Caveat Emptor Moroccan Fossils

One huge area of fossil fakery and forgery in the collecting world is in Moroccan fossils. There are full-service fake fossil factories in Morocco whose sole purpose is to pump out large volumes of this garbage which deflates the market for the real thing and dumbs down the collective fossil I.Q. of the denizens of the fossil market. This is a rampant problem everywhere I go and it is driving me nuts. Below is a brief primer on some of the more common examples of this growing problem. 

This is a genuine mosasaur skull from Morocco.
This is a detail of the above mosasaur skull showing a close-up view of the jaw. Compare this to below.
This is a faux mosasaur jaw featuring genuine mosasaur teeth attached to it. These jaws often utilized real bone or fossil bone but are not mosasaur jaws and are shaped wrong and like this one are unnatural in the way the jaws rest in the matrix.
Faux trilobites being sold for $1150. Assuming for the sake of argument the trilobites are genuine (and I wouldn't) they certainly did not come out of the ground attached to that plate. Were this plate real it would fetch a whole lot more than that and not be out and unlocked for sale in an antique mall in Morro Bay, CA.
Faux trilobites - notice the symmetry of their placement and the perfectness of their features... and all for a price any middle class person can afford to pay. In reality, any genuine specimen this size and quality would be up for auction by Bonhams & Butterfield or even sold via broker quietly to a museum or high-end collector. The one above is essentially painted onto the rock plate and given a modest amount of detail and relief.
Especially obvious faux trilobites... rather highly stylized and produced cookie cutter-style as evidenced by their being exactly the same.
This is an obviously fake fossil collage or mosaic of various different pieces parts of various different individual fossil specimens of orthoceras and ammonites cobbled together with glue and cement in such a way as to appear to the uneducated eye to be a remarkable single plate specimen when it reality it is a sort of rock art tableau.
All photos by Kim Patrick Noyes (all rights reserved)

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