Fake Fossils

Pseudofossils

Pseudofossils are rocks which have a strange shape or pattern on them which can be associated with the shape of living organisms. They are not fossils, but rocks which have formed in a particular shape, suffered unusual weathering or had a mineral seeping into them creating a pattern.  

On well known auction sites rocks can be found listed as apparent fossils such as eggs, dinosaur skulls, dinosaur claws, turtle shells, ferns, fish and footprints. The issue is that oblivious bidders spend a small fortune purchasing falsely labelled rocks.

The easiest way to avoid pseudofossils is to research what you are looking to buy before an acquisition. Look for reputable dealers who have good feedback levels and make sure to ask questions if you want answers.

Think carefully which parts of the plant or animal are typically preserved, soft tissue is not usually found so a “fossil dinosaur head” would be highly unlikely and should be avoided.

Above: A typically mistaken pseudofossil plant, manganese dendrites, formed from minerals seeping through cracks in particular rocks.