Fake Chinese fossils an 'insult' to museum visitors

Fake Chinese fossils an 'insult' to museum visitors

China is apparently producing shanzhai fossils now too, potentially corrupting the education of its young prehistory buffs
Chinese fossils fake
Real or fake?

A fake or “enhanced” fossil is not a new concept. Collectors and scientists have long been on the look out for fossils that are just too good to be true, especially when coming from China.

A recent article in Science magazine though reports that scientists are not only suspicious of fossils leaving the Middle Kingdom but also the ones on display there, writing that “fakes are now finding their way into Chinese museums.”

One paleontologist in the article estimates that more than “80 percent of marine reptile specimens now on display in Chinese museums have been ‘altered or artificially combined to varying degrees.’”

And you thought your shanzhai iPhone was bad.

Although not of major consequence to the average museum-goer, the impact of these types of forgeries is that people lose faith in the museums and institutions that are there to educate them.

That’s in addition to the dollars from scientific funding spent to prove (or disprove) a fossil’s authenticity.

Li Chun, an associate researcher of the Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Palaeoanthropology at the Chinese Academy of Sciences, is quoted in the piece, saying that he is “disturbed by the sham fossils and the damage they do to science and children's science education.”

"Fake fossils are like poisoned milk powder that injure and insult visitors," Li told “Beijing Sci-tech Report." 

China is taking steps to limit the number of fake fossil in its museums and passed the Regulations on the Protection of Paleontologic Fossils to combat the problem. The new regulations went into effect January 1, 2011.