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Falsifications: inclusion in amber
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 fossils in amber.
Amber falsifications can take many forms. The most spectacular -and thus remarkable- falsifications are made by embedding recent animals in a resin. Usually, less plausible but otherwise spectacular species are used, like scorpions and butterflies, making spotting these falsifications very straightforward. The pieces are often large, extremely translucent, and offered in batch. The price is a lot lower than what you would expect for a real specimen of similar size and quality, and that in itself should alarm a prospecting buyer. The example below is typical.
Completely fake 'butterfly in amber'.
Another type of fakery with fossils in amber, is the embedding of a recent animal in a real piece of amber. For that, the amber is broken in two halves and a cavity is made for the insect or whatever inclusion. After that, the pieces are put together again with a resin. This type of 'high end' forgery is more difficult to spot. Sometimes, inspecting the specimen while rotating it in vivid light, one might see the surface of the fracture under some angles. When you spot a fracture surface running through the inclusion, you should not buy the specimen.
A third type of fakery, information falsification, is selling copal as true amber. Copal is typically much younger in age, often even subfossil, and should sell a lot cheaper than true amber. Copal can have genuine and spectacular inclusions. Selling copal as true amber can be regarded a form of fraud.
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