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15 of the biggest scientific hoaxes

By: Bryan Nelson on July 26, 2010, 12:15 p.m.
Beringer's fossils

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Beringer's fossils

In 1726, Johann Beringer was the victim of an elaborate hoax by his colleagues at the University of Würzburg, who wanted to teach him a lesson about arrogance. The fraudsters carved limestone into shapes of improbable fossils and planted them so that Beringer would find them.

Beringer was so convinced by the fossils' authenticity that he published a book, ignoring clues that they were forgeries by claiming the limestone may have been chiseled by the hand of God to test mankind's faith.

After the hoax was revealed, Beringer felt such shame that he supposedly impoverished himself trying to buy up all copies of his book.