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Paleontologist Tim Rowe to Discuss World’s Infamous Scientific Forgeries

Paleontologist Tim Rowe to Discuss World’s Infamous Scientific Forgeries

Paleontologist Tim Rowe will discuss forensic paleontology — forgeries and fakes in science — March 3 at Sam Noble Museum.

NORMAN – Discover the truth behind some of the world’s most infamous scientific forgeries during “Forensic Paleontology,” a Dinosaurs, Past and Present lecture, from Timothy Rowe, J. Nalle Gregory Regents Professor of Geology at the University of Texas, at 5 p.m. on Tuesday, March 3, at the Sam Noble Museum.

The presentation will begin with a light reception at 4:30 p.m. Rowe’s visit to the University of Oklahoma is sponsored by the Phi Beta Kappa Visiting Scholars program, making possible the exchange of ideas between visiting scholars and the resident faculty and staff since 1956.

Rowe explains in his lecture that fossils, like great paintings and sculptures, propel the human mind over vast expanses of history.  As with great works of art, fossils can command great prices. But with a potential price tag, fossils are the victims of forgery, fraud, smuggling and some of the most entertaining incidents in the history of science.

However, fossils, unlike art, were not created as expressions of personal endeavor, or as commodities to be sold. 

“They are relicts of the nature’s deep time with a unique signal on her future, and most nations on Earth have enacted legislation that consign their sovereign fossils to the realm of science and to the Public Trust,” Rowe said.

During the lecture, Rowe will discuss Beringer’s Lying Stones, the motivation behind the culprit in the infamous Piltdown Man hoax and the story behind the Chinese “feathered dinosaurs” that have raised a scientific sensation in the last 20 years.

Are these real scientific discoveries or the makings of elaborate schemes? How can we tell? New technologies offer an amazing look inside genuine fossils, as well as into “genuine fakes,” at how they were created, and at the toll that science suffers at the hands of forgers and smugglers. 

The 13 men and women participating in the 2014-2015 Phi Beta Kappa Visiting Scholars program will visit 100 colleges and universities with chapters of Phi Beta Kappa, spending two days on each campus and taking full part in the academic life of the institution.

About Timothy Rowe

Rowe is a paleontologist whose research focuses on the evolution and development of vertebrates. He conducts fieldwork in the Mesozoic badlands of Texas and the American Southwest. In addition to his professorship, he is the director of the Vertebrate Paleontology Laboratory, which holds one of the largest research collections of vertebrate fossils in America. 

Co-founder and director of the High-Resolution X-ray Computed Tomography Facility, Rowe is a leader in developing digital technologies to analyze and visualize skeletons along with the soft tissues that skeletons support. His research has been supported by the National Science Foundation, the Keck and Intel Foundations and the American Chemical Society.