Piltdown Man stone tools, 1913

Piltdown Man stone tools, 1913

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Credit: PAUL D STEWART/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption: Piltdown Man stone tools. Illustration from the original journal paper announcing the discovery of Piltdown Man (Eoanthropus dawsoni). The Piltdown specimens were 'discovered' by collector Charles Dawson in the period 1912 to 1915, near Piltdown, Sussex, UK. It was claimed that Piltdown Man was the link between modern humans and their ape ancestors, combining the large human skull with an ape-like jaw. These eoliths (possible stone tools) were mistakenly identified as supporting evidence for the discovery. In 1953 Piltdown Man was shown to be a fraud. The skull fragments were human, the jaw came from an orangutan and the teeth from a chimpanzee. This became one of the most infamous hoaxes in science. The authors of the original paper were Dawson (thought to have been the forger) and Arthur Smith Woodward (believed to have been the duped scientist), keeper of the Geology Department at the Natural History Museum in London. The paper was titled: 'On the discovery of a Palaeolithic human skull and mandible in a flint-bearing gravel overlying the Wealden (Hastings Beds) at Piltdown, Fletching (Sussex)', and appeared in 'Quarterly Journal of the Geological Society of London', 69 (1), issued 25 April 1913.

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