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Piltdown Man and the British Museum

Piltdown Man of EnglandThe Piltdown Man has been proven to be a fake and a hoax. The bone fragments, flint tools and the bone implements were found at two other sites. The skull parts that turned out to be those of a modern man were found at one site. The jaw was from an ape skeleton found at a nearby site. Charles Dawson found the first cranial fragments of the Piltdown Man at the fossil dig site in 1908. He was only an amateur archaeologist. The fragments were given to the British Museum of Natural History where the skull was assembled. The finding was announced to the public. The media were elated at the find. This was the “missing link” of evolution that was so desperately needed to support the theory of evolution. Significant support was also given because the missing link was found in England.

Piltdown Man was displayed at the British Museum of Natural History. The British paleoanthropology community readily accepted the ideas that the fossil remains were that of a humanoid linking modern man to the apes. Very little, if any, critical analysis was given the findings until many years later.

Evolution —- redefined . . . . . . . . . . song by Geoff Moore

This song is a spoof on evolution. It starts as background sound
in a high school hallway. Don’t quit early. This song rocks.

In 1953, Piltdown Man was declared a hoax. The skull fragments, upon close examination, were obviously those of a modern man. The fragments were carved and stained. The teeth in the ape jaw had been filed down to more closely match the teeth of a man. Everyone had been duped and the search was on for the perpetrator, but none could be solidly proven. Perhaps two or more people collaborated in the scheme. Multiple witnesses and testimonies led others to be less suspecting and more easily duped. People simply tend to drop their guard and go with the prevailing opinion. The prime suspects in the Piltdown Man hoax are:

Martin A. C. Hilton is the prime suspect. He was the curator of zoology at the British Museum at the time. Years later a trunk with Hilton’s initials was found in the attic of the museum. Inside were bone fragments that had been carved and stained in the very same manner as those used to create Piltdown Man.

Arthur Smith Woodward was Keeper of Geology at the British Museum. He could have been attracted by the possibility of attention the finding would draw.

Charles Dawson was most likely selected as the fall guy by the perpetrators, and for many good reasons. He was only an amateur who could have easily been duped by the fossils planted at the sites. He became highly motivated after finding the first cranial piece.

Grafton Elliot Smith authored a paper on the discovery in 1913. His motives are simply not strong enough to list him a prime suspect.

W. J. Solass was a professor of geology at Oxford University. He may have conspired with the hoax leader.

Arthur Conan Doyle was the creator of Sherlock Holmes and could have pulled the stunt to test the investigatory expertise of scientists at the British Museum. They certainly failed the test. Doyle was most likely not involved. Otherwise, the cranial fragments would have had much better preparation.

Tielhard de Chardin was a theologian and scientist who accompanied Dawson to the dig sites. Chardin is less likely to have been the perpetrator because he probably did not support the theory of evolution.

This was an inside job by staff members of the British Museum. Martin A. C. Hilton was the ring leader, and he prepared the fake specimens. Arthur Smith Woodward was most likely his accomplice. The museum staff had ready access to source materials, controlled the “discovered” artifacts, prepared Piltdown Man for display, limited the access by outsiders and prevented a close examination. Charles Dawson was the fall guy who would be given the blame if the hoax ever came to light.

The media are always accomplices in these frauds and hoaxes. They continue to protect the British Museum and use Dawson as the scapegoat. The media simply cannot resist the chance to run a headline story that will sell lots of papers or gain lots of television viewers. They also tend to strongly support the false theory of evolution. Now the Internet is jumping on the bandwagon with thousands of websites promoting all kinds of frauds and hoaxes for monetary gain.


October 9, 2008 - Posted by | Historic Controversies | , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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