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Hello all, as some of us may have noticed while skulking Ebay, there has been a trend with many "specimens" of certain Chinese vertebrates being listed and sold: Turtles(Manchurochelys), Birds(Confuciusornis) and even Reptiles(Monjorosuchus). Firstly, most of us here will agree that all of these specimens are faked!

Since there was a recent thread asking about the authenticity about the turtles, it is clear that many amateur collectors(myself included) are considering buying or have bought some of these "fossils" and I hope my observations in this post can help prevent you from being scammed.

Last year, before Ebay was flooded, I acquired two specimens(a turtle and reptile) against my better judgement from a different Japanese auction site. One of the pieces arrived broken cleanly in two, and I was able to tell that the reptile and the turtle(by association with the same dealer) are faked. To the untrained/unfamiliar eye however, it becomes hard to distinguish as these fakes are crafted with a level of detail rarely seen before. These are not churned out from an assembly-line, but rather painstakingly hand-crafted so that every piece is more or less unique. They are usually painted grey or in some cases a shade of brown like mine. Some of these specimens are even fabricated on the same Jurassic/Cretaceous matrix with remains of real Lycoptera fish.

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Also, as you can see from the following photos of the broken areas, the reptile in question is sculpted from some kind of epoxy material. One of the limb bones even fell off cleanly! The details of this specimen has some resemblance to real examples of Monjorosuchus(Manchurosuchus). Not everyone will be able to tell the difference!

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Thanks to the advice of Scott(Piranha) on TFF, I stopped myself from acquiring a "Confuciusornis" as well and was able to claim back my money from postal insurance. I will say with 100% certainty that all these vertebrate fossils are crafted by the same process as the "Monjorosuchus" above. Edit: Here are a couple more pictures of the faked Confuciusornis, the skull looks completely iffy but everything else is very intricately crafted! More pictures of the bird here.

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A few last observations, I noticed that these listings on Ebay started popping up last year. At first, it was just a few turtles, but have now expanded to this so-called "Trinity" of vertebrates. It is clear that there is big money being made from this and amateur collectors need to know what is going on. There are multiple sellers taking advantage of this new cash cow(or belonging to the same syndicate) who build up their Ebay rating by selling small cheap electronics/hardware before listing these fakes in an attempt to fool you. Also bear in mind these are all private listings and it is not possible to tell if they are shill bidding on each other's items to drive prices up.

Ebay used to have people moderating their fossils section for fakes, but this is not the case anymore and I doubt reporting these listings will have much impact. I urge you all to consult TFF members for advice before making any purchase if you are uncertain!

I have included more photos at higher resolution at the following imgur album(warning:large size): http://imgur.com/a/076uT. I hope that any prospective buyers out there will learn from my experience. Also, if there is anyone here with more experience with these kinds of vertebrates, please share your thoughts!

Edited by Han.T
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fossilized6s

Thanks for looking out! I think Auspex should sticky this.

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Great post, thanks. I knew these were fakes but didn't know the technique - very useful to see some close-ups.

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LordTrilobite

I agree that this should be stickied. Very informative thread. Also very good detailed photos.

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Great photos- this will be a great help for people looking out for fakes, well done!

It is a shame though....those would be considered to be exellent replicas if sold as such.

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Thank you all for your kind words and support, I really hope that Ebay will do something about this shady practice but for now it is up to the individual to be vigilant when making a purchase. The fakes from Ebay are seemingly of the "lower grade" imitations. Auspex's post demonstates how bad the quality of the reproductions can be. One thing I must reiterate from my post is that I obtained mine from a Japanese auction house and these are probably one of the "higher grade" imitations. Here are some pictures of the Confuciusornis that I almost obtained, compare it to the above pictures and you can see a world of difference in the details:

7mrJpRZ.jpg

It is important to note that there are different levels of quality involved in these fakes, just because that one is more detailed than another doesn't mean it could be genuine! I have updated my main post to show a couple photos of the Confuciusornis.

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...Here are some pictures of the Confuciusornis that I almost obtained, compare it to the above pictures and you can see a world of difference in the details...

The counterfeit nature of this one is less glaring, but there are major inaccuracies with the osteology. The skull in particular, and the humerus are wrong, and clumsily done.

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Megatooth Collector

Han, excellent post. Thank you very much for posting this information in such detail.

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I don't buy fossils, but this is an excellent post... a warning to those who do shop on ebay etc.

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Wow does every member of the species die in the same pose?

I haven't bought any ebay fossils but this post is helpful to anyone buying fossils.

I have only purchased gifts from Dealers I either personally knew or met on TFF with a good long standing.

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Wow does every member of the species die in the same pose?

I haven't bought any ebay fossils but this post is helpful to anyone buying fossils.

I have only purchased gifts from Dealers I either personally knew or met on TFF with a good long standing.

TFF members are a good honest bunch I say.

Have made several purchases/exchanges and gotten nothing but good solid results.

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  • 1 month later...

The most disturbing fact for me is: This guy sold at least 140 of these "fossils", but got back only one negative feedback plus five neutral ones.

Thomas

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jpevahouse

I was suspicious from the first time I noticed Chinese fossils on eBay. I have collected Asian art for many years and learned to avoid Chinese antiquities. At any one time there are hundreds of fake Tibetan thankas made in China being sold on eBay as authentic. I have seen few old things come out of China which are not fake. Chinese fakes have destroyed the market for Tibetan artwork because they've flooded the world with thousands of fakes claiming to be antique Tibetan artwork.

They are trying to do the same with fossils. Anything of value that can be faked is make in China. It's like central American artifacts, most are fakes made in Mexico. Export of antiquities from many countries has been strictly controled for many years. Though there's illegal trade fakes have taken place of the real thing and the unknowledgeable and unsuspecting collector will be cheated. Collections are flooded with fakes.

Fine art is another good example. Museums and collections all over the world find fake paintings in their collections regularly. There has been a market in fake art since Romans faked Greek statues 2000 years ago. Some forgers are known to have faked thousands of artworks. It's been an industry a long time and it's no surprise to see it happening to fossils.

Chinese fakes are obvious but I think it extends beyond Chinese faked reptile fossils. As discussed elsewhere on this forum there are good ole American made fakes too.

Edited by jpevahouse
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Frankly, I don't think any of these are particularly well done fakes.

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Great point Han and your right about eBay no longer watching out for these fakes anymore. The fakes in this post might look obvious to you experts of anatomy but to a novice and enthusiastic fossil collector, they are an obtainable museum specimen.

Mikey

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Given that were these genuine fossils they would have been illegally exported from China, one has to wonder why anyone is buying them in the first place.

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jpevahouse

The Chinese reptile and bird fossils commonly listed on eBay are as Rich pointed out not very convincing. I suspected something was wrong first time I saw one. They are too good to be true and not much detail in the fossils.

Ebay from my experience will not become involved unless there is a direct legal issue that would affect them. Otherwise, buyers are subject to all kinds of scams on eBay. They will close auctions immediately listing ivory because they could be in violation of the international ban on ivory sales. I've seen them even cancel auctions of mastodon molars and similar elephant related items.

I think the question of whether a particular item is a genuine fossil or not has enough legal ambiquity eBay doesn't see a legal threat which would directly affect them. Ambiquity in the law can sometimes equate to consent.

Edited by jpevahouse
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  • 1 year later...
Fossildude19

I think the lesson here is simply:

"Don't buy anything off Ebay."

Rather than buy anything of Ebay, approach a reputable dealer.

I've bought a number of genuine fossils from eBay.

These are fossils I would not be able to get anywhere else.

I don't think eBay needs to be discounted entirely, ...rather, do your homework before you buy.

Regards,

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When it comes to purchasing fossils I would not rule out any source including eBay. There is a lot of great material available online that can be difficult to be sourced elsewhere. Even reputable dealers don't have it correct all of the time so there are NO guarantees. Like fossildude said you need to do your homework. Become knowledgeable in what you are interested in so you are the expert and not relying on the seller's information.

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I've bought some really nice fossils on ebay.

Only common stuff though, where there is little chance of fakery!

I've bought a couple of genuine Madagascar ammonites from china- nothing wrong with them. Very common fossils though, there is no need to fake them.

I've only regretted one ebay fossil - a green river fish that had more restoration than I wanted.

Edited by aplomado
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The first rule of collecting anything is "know something about your subject".

Scientior emptor!

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Fossil_Rocks

The most disturbing fact for me is: This guy sold at least 140 of these "fossils", but got back only one negative feedback plus five neutral ones.

Thomas

Ebay is a tough place, but it's gotten better, I think.
With art forgeries at all time highs, even the experts are getting fooled.

When it comes to purchasing fossils I would not rule out any source including eBay. There is a lot of great material available online that can be difficult to be sourced elsewhere. Even reputable dealers don't have it correct all of the time so there are NO guarantees. Like fossildude said you need to do your homework. Become knowledgeable in what you are interested in so you are the expert and not relying on the seller's information.

The biggest lesson I've learned over the past year is that that labor is really cheap in some places. So cheap that fakes or restorations become economical in poor countries.

Edited by Fossil_Rocks
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