Re: Piltdown Man

Derek Tearne (
8 Aug 1995 13:57:42 +1200

In article <3vu13t$>,
Joe Toth <> wrote:
>Could someone please help me out with a one paragraph synopsis of the
>Piltdown hoax: who was involved, what happened, etc. Please email your
>response. I really appreciate any help.

It is unclear who was actually involved in the hoax, it is
very likely that a third party setup the hoax and the people
who presented papers and took the glory for the find were suckered
into it. Simply the skull of a medieval human (a particularly thick
skulled specimen) and the skull of a medieval Orangutan were placed
where they would be found by a group of collectors who were very keen
to make a find on British soil. The jaw bone had been snapped to
remove the hinges (this would have been a dead give away) and the teeth
filed to look more like an early hominid. The specimen, which fitted
almost exactly the characteristics scientists expected to find in a
specimen from strata of that age. Indeed these are almost exactly
the characteristcs found in the genuine Java Man specimen.

The collectors, not expecting a hoax, took the specimen for real,
published and took the glory.

Several others wrote papers based on the specimen (some identifying
the file marks on the teeth as wear associated with the animals
lifestyle etc) until someone tried the new technique of carbon

The game was finally up.

There is a book entitled 'The Piltdown Men' which explains this
all in more detail.

Derek Tearne -
Some of the more environmentally aware dinosaurs were worried about the
consequences of an accident with the new Iridium enriched fusion reactor.
"If it goes off only the cockroaches and mammals will survive..." they said.