Investigation: Piltdown hoax was the work of one man

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tags: Piltdown hoax

Isabelle De Groote is a Senior Lecturer in Biological Anthropology at Liverpool John Moores University.

It is arguably the greatest scientific crime ever committed in Britain. In December 1912, Charles Dawson, an amateur antiquarian and solicitor archaeologist, presented part of a human-like skull to the world which he claimed was the “missing link” between ape and human. While the discovery made waves at the time, new dating technologies in the 1950s revealed that these bones were nowhere near old enough to make up such a link and that the fossils had therefore been a hoax.

So who did it? Suspects have ranged from French priest and palaeontologist Teilhard de Chardin to writer Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, but many archaeologists naturally suspect Dawson. But the evidence has so far been lacking. And if it were indeed him, how can we be sure he didn’t have any accomplices? Now, a century after his death, new evidence obtained by my colleagues and I points the finger of suspicion even more firmly at Dawson, and suggests a sole hoaxer was responsible.

Read entire article at The Conversation

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