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Falsifications: fish fossils

The article series on falsifications aims at providing some key insights for recognising falsification using examples. This overview is not exhaustive and might contain errors. We advise to always adopt a critical attitude when buying fossils. This article gives examples of falsified fish fossils.

Fish fossils and other fossils from layered limestone are regularly 'enhanced' using a contrast-improving liquid or paint. Splitting these stones often results in a 'positive' fossil, containing most bone material, and a largely collorless 'negative' imprint. Often, this imprint is painted and sold separately as a fish fossil. Take a detailed look at the vertebra, usually the most pronounced feature of a fish fossil. A raised vertebral colomn is indicative of the presence of the actual bones. This feature is difficult to evaluate from pictures, and can even be faked, creating an optical illusion by playing with lighting and shadows. Another reason to only buying fossils when you can actually inspect them in real life.

A painted fish imprint.

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