Piltdown in Letters

Abstract

From the moment of discovery, the Piltdown "fossils" were the center of controversy. Piltdown apparently provided a human fossil on English soil, a maker for the eoliths, and proof that the brain came first in human evolution and that an anatomically modern braincase was present at the beginning of the Ice Age. Every conclusion was important and controversial, and for many years it was not possible to discuss human evolution without considering Piltdown. Hundreds of papers were written about the discoveries, but the problem remained. Anatomically it seemed impossible to associate the skull and jaw, but the chance association of an ape's jaw and a human skull in England seemed at least as improbable. The solution came when J.S. Weiner, Kenneth Oakley, and W.L. le Cros Clark showed that everything was fakeā€“the bones had been stained, ape's teeth filed down, and fossils added to the assemblage to determine the antiquity. The whole matter is carefully reviewed in Weiner's The Piltdown Forgery ( 1955).

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Citations of this work

Eoliths as Evidence for Human Origins? The British Context.Marianne Sommer - 2004 - History and Philosophy of the Life Sciences 26 (2):209 - 241.

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