Piltdown Man Hoax Was the Work of a Single Forger, Study Says

Jennifer Oullette in Gizmodo:

Ixrt8i5iewf6o7kp4dnyPiltdown Man is one of the most famous scientific hoaxes in history. A new paper in Royal Society Open Science provides compelling evidence that there was just one forger, rather than many. Also, the bones used to create the fakes came from a single orang-utan specimen and at least two human skulls.

“The people at the Natural History Museum [in London] have never stopped looking at Piltdown Man,” lead author Isabel de Groote, a paleoanthropologist at Liverpool John Moores University in the U.S., told Gizmodo. As new technologies become available, the specimens are re-examined, in hopes of shedding light on the remaining mysteries. This time around, the analyses included CT scanning, ancient DNA analysis, spectroscopy, and radiocarbon dating.

When paleontologist Arthur Smith Woodward and lawyer and amateur antiquarian Charles Dawson announced their discovery of unusual fossils in a gravel pit near the town of Piltdown in December 1912, it caused an immediate sensation. The two men claimed to have excavated human skull fragments and a distinctly ape-like jawbone with two worn molar teeth, along with some stone tools and the fossilized remains of animals.

Since the bones were found next to each other in the pit, surely, the men argued, they all came from a single creature—technically called Eoanthopus dawsoni, but soon nicknamed Piltdown Man. Many hailed the find as the long-sought missing link proving that man and apes were evolutionarily linked.

More here.