Fake Fossils

Please note much of the information on this site is outdated and I am in the process of adding new photos and information.

This resource is for anyone with an interest in finding the remains of ancient creatures that lived in the time before ours. I hope to bring awareness of the dangers of buying fossils from untrustworthy dealers. Fossil fraud and fake fossils have become a huge dilemma in the open fossil market. It is of great important that both the dealer and collector to be able to determine if a fossil is real or authentic.

Sadly if you're going to find fossils on your own you’re not going to find the most extravagant or uncommon fossils from the start so many people develop their fossil collection by purchasing. People buy common specimens to start a collection, or rarer, more desirable specimens to fill in gaps to what they have found already. With everything, there are risks that you have to take.

Above: Marine Reptile Cast on Display



Spotting fake fossils is a key skill needed before making a purchase. The most common practice is to purchase of a well known, reliable dealer who only sells high quality or specialised specimens. Even dealers who have a good reputation can sell fake and modified fossils; it is not uncommon for a seller to claim a specimen’s location or identity wrong.

Look out for “bad” looking fossils, the quality matters, or look out for them in bulk lot as many of these will be fakes. This does not mean that wholesalers don’t buy genuine specimens in bulk and sell them on to get a better price but if one specimen is a fake it is most likely they all are.

Some of the people who make them spend a lot of time making them look almost exactly like the real deal. If the fossil looks good the easier the fraud is as they will be more expensive. This can be a problem when looking out for these fakes. Wherever you see a good place with lots of museum quality fossils for sale, fakes are very likely to occur. You should also be more familiar with the real thing than the guy who's making them; do lots of research before making a purchase.

Never trust a seller if the images are out of focus. Sometimes the seller will deliberately blur the photo to block you from identifying that it is a fake. Always request more photos if the seller has not provided adequate images.

  • If you ever buy fossils on the internet, always check the seller’s feedback. Only buy off the seller if they have positive feedback.
  • If many fossils (e.g. trilobites) are on one piece of rock they could have been assembled or completely fake. Also look to see if the different species lived together, as in some cases they don’t and are complete forgeries.
  • If the fossils on offer all look very similar they are very likely to be fakes.
  • Always ask for decent photos of the specimen.