As the paleontology is better known and fossil trading, legal and illegal, widespread, the probability of coming up to problematic specimens increases. And more often, these fossils are not directly collected by specialists, for whom it is important to determine whether authentic or fake, but become a source of enrichment for inexperienced people who live especially in poor countries (Mateus et al., 2008). The market of fossils is oriented more towards private collectors than to professional paleontologists and such type of consumer privilege the general aspect of the specimens in respect to their scientific value. It is also well known that such type of material frequently includes various types of fake (Padian, 2000; Zhou et al., 2002; Mateus et al., 2008). Recently, the refurbishing of a private collection rich in nearly thousand specimens seized by Carabinieri del Nucleo Tutela Patrimonio Culturale (Ancona, Marche, Italy) in the locality of Serrapetrona (Macerata, Marche, Italy) and currently owned by Soprintendenza per i Beni Archeologici delle Marche (Italy) has given the chance to analyzed amazing and rare specimens. In particular, one specimen captured the attention because of its beauty and its peculiarity: it showed characters of aquatic adaptations and similarities with both mosasaurs and aigialosaurs. It has been classified as Tethysaurus nopcsai Bardet et al. 2003, a basal mosasauroid of which there are only three fragmentary specimen described in the literature and the holotype consists only of a nearly complete articulated skull. At least at first sight, the specimen consisted of an apparently complete skeleton, about 1.6 m in length, well exposed on a whitish slab of about 80x90 cm. In front of such a dramatically important specimen, the questions about its provenance and its real scientific nature were pressing and because of the completeness of such a rare taxon, some doubts rose up about its authenticity. In order to clear the mind of all suspicions, the fossil was submitted to CT-scan and X-Ray examinations to proceed subsequently to a general cleaning for removing the paint coverage and so showing the artifacts. After the cleaning and preparation following the results of the radiographic exams, it was possible to establish that the specimen consists of a complete skull and mandible with most of the axial skeleton and some elements of the appendicular one preserved. All the make-up work, that at first sight can be interpreted as a case of forgery, has been done only to “beautify” the specimen and to increase its value on the market of private collectors. It seems worth of note that, even if the “preparation” neither damaged the specimen nor brought to a loss of scientific value, surely rendered harder the study. To complete the tale of this specimen odyssey, it’s important to notify that the Tethysaurus specimen of Serrapetrona is still under study and probably will dramatically improve our knowledge about this taxon (Paparella in prep.). The word “beautified” wants to enhance the importance of the scientific value that it’s still possible to retrieve from a made-up specimen. The aim of this work is to make a distinction between real frauds, chimeras, hoaxes, “Frankensteins” (Dalton, 2000b; 2004; Padian, 2000; Rowe et al., 2001; Milner et al., 2001; Mateus et al., 2008) and fossils that have been “beautified” just to increase their ostensive and economic value and not to invalidate their potential scientific value.
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|Titolo:||FAKE OR SIMPLY “BEAUTIFIED”? AN EXAMPLE FROM A NEW SPECIMEN OF TETHYSAURUS NOPCSAI BARDET ET AL. 2003|
|Data di pubblicazione:||2013|
|Citazione:||FAKE OR SIMPLY “BEAUTIFIED”? AN EXAMPLE FROM A NEW SPECIMEN OF TETHYSAURUS NOPCSAI BARDET ET AL. 2003 / Paparella, Ilaria; Nicosia, Umberto. - STAMPA. - (2013). ((Intervento presentato al convegno Giornate di Paleontologia 2013 tenutosi a Perugia nel 23-25 Maggio 2013.|
|Appare nella tipologia:||04f Poster|