Piltdown hoax dating
Suspects over the years have included a range of archaeologists involved with the find and even at one point Arthur Conan Doyle.But researchers from Liverpool John Moores University, employing a range of techniques including DNA sequencing and spectroscopy, determined Charles Dawson deserves all the blame for the forgery—after all, he was the only person involved with both the initial discovery in 1912 and a second “find” in 1915.This was a tremendous humiliation, especially from the late 19th to early 20th century when the British superpower stood by watching while sensational discoveries were being made in other European countries.The fossils that began to reveal the evolutionary path of humans and related species were found in France, Spain, Croatia, Italy and above all Germany.Charles Dawson, an amateur archaeologist hungry for fame, claimed to have found fragments of a skull that was part human and part primate.The find neatly filled a hole in the theory of human evolution—a little too neatly.
In 1953, the Piltdown Man was dismissed permanently as a hoax.
The skull featured human and primate parts because that’s exactly what it was, an amalgamation of two medieval human skulls and the jawbone of an orangutan.
Now, we know who to blame for one of science’s most infamous lies.
The bones are covered in a reddish coating meant to make them look far more ancient—the coating covers up the dental putty Dawson used to fill in cracks and hold the teeth in place.
He also inserted pebbles into cracks in the bones—also with the help of dental putty—to make the bones closer in weight to fossils.