Fake Moulin-Quignon jaw, 1864

Fake Moulin-Quignon jaw, 1864

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Credit: PAUL D STEWART/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption: Fake Moulin-Quignon jaw. Illustration from the 1864 publication announcing what was later shown to be a fossil forgery that took place in 1863 at Moulin-Quignon, near Abbeville in France. French archaeologist Jacques Boucher de Perthes had unearthed flint tools in the region that proved the antiquity of man. He offered a reward of 200 francs for any labourer who found human remains. In March 1863, a workman gave him a human tooth. Further excavation soon found a human jaw. The discovery of the Moulin-Quignon jaw became very famous. However doubts soon arose, particularly among British scientists. Pioneering analysis of the organic content of the bone proved it fake. Boucher de Perthes never accepted it was a fake, but elsewhere scientists were relieved that so damaging a forgery had been identified and dismissed so early. This is Plate III, showing the recovered jaw, from 'De La Machoire Humaine De Moulin Quignon' (1864) by Boucher de Perthes.

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