Paul Selden, a palaeontologist at the University of Kansas, is known as Sherlock Holmes in the archaeological community, according tomedia CNET. Selden’s “investigation” revealed that a large spider was actually a doctored crayfish, revealing that it was a fake fossil.
Staff at the Dalian Museum of Nature in China bought the spider from locals and published a description of the creature. The paper calls it a new spider species called Mongolarachne Chaoyangensis. Not only is the fossil huge, but its legs, eyes and parts of the body look strange.
Selden was invited to look closely at the fossil. “I realized that what had happened was that I had found a poorly preserved crayfish and someone had drawn some legs on it,” Selden said in a news release Thursday from the University of Kansas. “
Selden and a team of scientists published a story in the journal Paleontology about how they found out: “Mongolarachne Chaoyangensis, a giant spider from the Cretaceous County group in China, is a crayfish. “
Researchers in Kansas used an imaging technique called fluorescence microscopy to determine which parts were real fossils and which parts were painted. The paint on the fossils is doing quite well. Selden says the fake fossils are intended to make money, but papers on fake fossils rarely appear in academic journals.
“The people who describe it are very good palaeontologists, they’re not spider experts, ” he says. This may lead to them being cheated. “