Rendiconti Online della Società Geologica Italiana - Vol. 55/2021

The fossil merchant from Verona: the first written testimony of paleontological forgery in Italy

Marco Romano & Johannes Pignatti
Dipartimento di Scienze della Terra, "Sapienza" Università di Roma, Rome, Italy Corresponding author e-mail:

Volume: 55/2021
Pages: 54-63


The fabrication and trade of fake or counterfeit fossils is a major problem in paleontology, with countless specimens sold on the market that have repeatedly entered official scientific literature. Far from being only a modern problem, the counterfeiting of fossils is an ancient activity and can be traced back to the early scientific interest of mankind in these natural objects, capable of arousing curiosity and wonder. Herein, we report the first written testimony by Catullo in 1827 of a fossil forgery from Italy, produced by a merchant active in Verona between the end of the 18th and the beginning of the 19th century. The counterfeit fossils were made using molds, and were probably sold at high prices to undiscerning collectors.


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