The Himalayan Fossils Hoax

Viswa Jit Gupta was a prominent Indian fossil scientist who was discovered to have been faking fossil finds for many years. The fraud was exposed by Australian geologist John Talent in the late 1980s.

From Gilbert Klapper ("QUESTIONS OF FRAUD", Chicago Literary Club, April 11, 2005):

The methodology of the fraud took several forms, the major one involving reporting fossils collected from elsewhere in the world (often purchased from commercial dealers or stolen from teaching and museum collections in geological institutions) and claiming their origin to be from remote areas of the Himalayas. Typically, the papers were illustrated with generalized location maps so that replication was impeded, but where the sites could be located they contained either unfossiliferous rocks, fossils of undiagnostic character, or no exposure of rocks at all. Another method was to re-publish the same fossils claiming them to be from geographically different sites (as in the conodont example mentioned at the outset) or copying illustrations taken from much earlier publications by other authors. Gupta, while acknowledging that he was not an expert on any particular group of fossils, characteristically brought in a considerable number of unsuspecting, internationally renowned experts to identify the fossils, write the detailed descriptions, and serve as co-authors.

Links and References
  • J.A. Talent, "The Case of the Peripatetic Fossils," Nature 338 [1989]: 613-15.
  • J.A. Talent, "Chaos with Conodonts and Other Fossil Biota: V.J. Gupta's Career in Academic Fraud: Bibliographies and a Short Biography," Courier Forschungsinstitut Senckenberg, 182 (1995): 523-51.


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