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Fossil Trafficking, Fraud, and Fakery

“The fascination with ancient flora and fauna is a centuries-old phenomenon and is one of the main drivers of fossil crimes. Fossils have been sought by the rich and famous since the advent of colonialism, propelling development in the field of palaeontology but also in how fossils make their way through various, sometimes illegal, corridors to end up in museums and collections across the world. As demand for fossils increased in the nineteenth century, so did commercial avenues for these objects that were being sold not only to private individuals but also to scientific institutions. The most complete and visually impressive fossils in terms of size or uniqueness determine the market value of these fossils with some selling for millions of United States dollars. This has also led to the tampering or forging of fossils by many dealers in an attempt to inflate prices. While fossil crimes have been prevalent for centuries, the legal frameworks within which these crimes can be controlled or stopped are regularly challenged or even circumvented not only due to the lack of enforcements of these regulations but also due to how paleontological objects are classified in the first place as well as other legal loopholes.” Published in Art Crime in Context