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The Piltdown Man

Uploaded by Admin on Jan 22, 1999

1. A hoax A hoax: n. 1. Practical joke 2. Deceptive trick 3. Play trick upon 4. Decieve example: Piltdown Man For forty years they were considered one of the archaeological finds of the century: A fragment of jaw and a part of a skull that could prove man evolved from the apes. They were the bones of Eoanthropus dawsoni found near Piltdown Common in Sussex. The bones of the "Missing Link." Not since 1953 the name "Piltdown" hasn't been associated with great scientific discovery, but great scientific fraud. It was in that year that a group of scientists, lead by Kenneth Page Oakley, attempted to use the new method of fluorine testing to get a more exact date on the bones. What the test showed surprised them: The jaw was modern and the skull only six hundred years old. Additional analysis soon confirmed the fluorine tests. The jaw was really that of an orangutan. It had been filed down and parts that might have suggested it's simian origin were broken off. Both pieces had been treated to suggest great age. Piltdown was proclaimed genuine by several of the most brilliant British scientists of the day: Arthur Smith Woodward, Arthur Keith and Grafton Elliot Smith. How did these faked fragments of bone fool the best scientific minds of the time? Perhaps the desire to be part of a great discovery blinded those charged with authenticating it. Many English scientists felt left out by discoveries on the continent. Neanderthal had been found in Germany in 1856, and Cro-Magnon in France in 1868. Perhaps national pride had kept the researchers from noticing the scratch marks made by the filing of the jaw and teeth. Items that were apparent later on to investigators after Oakley exposed the hoax. Even as early as 1914, though, there were those that doubted the fossils. William King Gregory wrote, "It has been suspected by some that geologically [the specimens] are not old at all; that they may even represent a deliberate hoax..." Who perpetrated the hoax? Many historians lay their bets on Charles Dawson, the amateur geologist that supposedly discovered the bones in a gravel pit. Others, though, lay the blame at the feet of people as diverse as a young Jesuit priest, named Teilhard de Chardin, who assisted in the dig, to the author Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, who lived in the area. Dawson was an English solicitor who sought...

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Uploaded by:   Admin

Date:   01/22/1999

Category:   Science And Technology

Length:   3 pages (741 words)

Views:   1392

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