In the category of dubious finds falls the sort of tomfoolery that victimized Professor Beringer of Wurzburg. In 1726 the professor published a book [that] tells about the fossils Beringer and his students found in the vicinity of Wurzburg. The text describes petrified flowers, frogs, a spider in the act of catching a fly (spider and fly petrified simultaneously); also a petrified star, a half-moon, tables with Hebraic characters, and other curious objects... It was widely read and came in for much praise – until the horrid truth was revealed. Schoolboys had been playing an elaborate practical joke on the innocent Beringer. Working at home, they had carefully manufactured “fossils,” and these they had planted where the professor was sure to dig.
Saturday, September 21, 2013
Gods, Graves, & Scholars, by C.W. Ceram, Alfred A. Knopf 1956