A hypothetical stage of human evolution, now discredited, based on the discovery of an ape-like jawbone found near Piltdown, England, close to a human cranium. Archaeologists at this time thought that the large brain of the human evolved before its smaller mandible, and this was the evidence they had been looking for. Unfortunately, it happened to be bunk.

The perpetrator was never discovered, but some evidence points to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.

Disproven 1953.

Piltdown Man in Tubular Bells, indeed! That was clearly Klingon opera!


Charles Dawson "discovered" the Piltdown Man in Piltdown, England. Dawson was a lawyer, and an amateur geologist. He made a few discoveries that gave him a name in the geologist community. In June 1912, Dawson started searching for bones in the Piltdown pit. He found a bunch of fossils, but few were worthy of tremendous recognition. In December he announced his discovery of Eoanthropus Dawsoni, the Piltdown Man. The Piltdown skull was very normal human looking, or what many would call modern looking; but the jaw was very primitive looking. Hence there were many differing views as to whether this scull was recent or ancient.

Another Piltdown Man was created by Dawson in order to confirm the first one. Thus the whole, or very close to whole, scientific community believed in the two fossils. It was accepted as fact from then on until 1953, about 40 years later when it was discovered to be fake. Many of people wrote college dissertations on the Piltdown Man, yet not one of them caught the fraud. Then, in 1982, through close examination, the truth was revealed. The skull was human. The jaw was from a female orangutan, which had to be broken in order to fit the part; the teeth were filed down to match the upper jaw. This was a man made fossil.

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