The first was a giant trilobite fossil from Morocco. Trilobites were ancient arthropods, among the first of the complex lifeforms to inhabit the Paleozoic seas. They had brains, eyes, legs, and survived in numerous different habitats. But most trilobites are very small, maybe an inch or two long. This monster was huge! And the seller was willing to part with it for only $30! I snapped it up.
Why the excitement over a Mosasaur? It's because they were one of the most interesting creatures ever found in our region. A local boy found the fossil in the foothills of the Coast Ranges just twenty miles or so from our campus. We've already acquired a skull of the 30-foot long creature for demonstrating our local paleontology finds.
|An old dinosaur, along with a Mosasaur skull replica|
If dealers were honest about such things, it wouldn't bother me too much. I wanted a large trilobite replica that I could use while discussing paleontology, and this specimen fit the bill pretty well. The ironic thing is that the dealer clearly marked some of his specimens of smaller trilobites as "copies", but he basically told me "why buy these smaller fakes when you could have the real thing right here for only $30?" As a replica, the price was pretty cheap. A genuine sample of this size could probably run into four figures, and sometimes these fakes carry such price tags. That's a pretty handy profit margin, courtesy of some poor uninformed person with too much money on hand.
The tooth is most likely the real thing, but was probably damaged on the back side. The root is probably left over from the faker's lunch, a piece of cow or sheep bone glued to the tooth. Sometimes they make entire jaw bones out of this stuff.
How do I know it is genuine? Well, I found it myself. That's the best way to confirm such things, and it's fun to boot.
For more information about these faked specimens, check out http://www.fossilmuseum.net/collect/fake-trilobites.htm