Impact of bird fraud unclear

Meinertzhagen's decades-long fraud may be more far-reaching, but ornithologists have yet to understand its full impact on the field

Graciela Flores(graciela_flores@nasw.org)
Oct 16, 2005

An extensive analysis of the British ornithologist Richard Meinertzhagen's bird collection at the Natural History Museum in Tring, UK, has revealed that a fraud involving theft and fabrication, uncovered over a decade ago, is more far reaching than was previously suspected. Still, ornithologists remain somewhat unclear how much impact the ever-growing fraud could have on the field.

"As it turns out, Meinertzhagen had stolen the best specimens of other people's collections and then proceeded to fabricate data to go with them," Alan Knox, of the Historic Collections at the University of Aberdeen, King's College, who first uncovered the fraud in 1993, told The Scientist.

The new report, presented at the 123rd meeting of the American Ornithologists' Union last August, has not yet been published, but it is already starting to reveal the extent of the deceit, said co-author Pamela Rasmussen of the Michigan State University Museum and...

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