Recent Geoethical Issues in Moroccan and Peruvian Paleontology

Juan Carlos Gutiérrez-Marco, Artur Abreu Sá, Diego C. García-Bellido, César A. Chacaltana


The cases of Joan Corbacho from Spain, and Klaus Hönninger and Carlos A. Vildoso from Peru, considered by some as prestigious paleontologists in their countries, are discussed here. The first one is a fossil collector and trader that, without a minimal scientific knowledge, published ca. 20 papers with proposals for a dozen new trilobite taxa coming from different Paleozoic formations in the Moroccan Anti-Atlas. Descriptions of new taxa seem formally valid but are rather inadequate, often based on poorly preserved material of dubious geological provenance, and mostly published as papers without peer review in a local journal, managed by a private museum connected to the Seminary of Barcelona. Besides this, part of the published and figured trilobite specimens were later offered for sale in the internet, sometimes accompanied with a ‘certificate of authenticity’ signed by the Museum director. Mr. Corbacho is acting also in Spain as a judicial expert in paleontology while he is not more than an amateur fossil collector. In Peru, the two cited pseudo-paleontologists lead their official-looking businesses, the ‘Meyer-Hönninger Palaeontological Museum’ and the ‘Peruvian Institute of Paleovertebrate Studies’, respectively, under names of institutional appearance. The ‘scientific research’ activities of Mr. Hönninger have been basically deactivated by authorities of the Ministry of Culture, and following a public complaint for fraud in the First International Symposium of Palaeontology of Peru held in 2014 in Lima. However, the dealings of the Mr. Vildoso, who has long claimed to have a title on Paleontology from the University of La Plata (Argentina), which he has never been able to show, has experienced a considerable increase, with paleontological heritage contracts with mining companies and the organization of the Dakar Rally. The prominence of the position he has attained is such that he was offered the presidency of the Organizing Committee of the IX Latin American Congress of Palaeontology held in 2016 in Lima, which has ended in an organization disaster and a money scandal.


geoethics, scientific misconduct, paleontology, trilobites, Morocco, Peru

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Published by INGV, Istituto Nazionale di Geofisica e Vulcanologia - ISSN: 2037-416X