The Piltdown Man Fraud
On this date in 1912, an amateur archaeologist announced that he had found two skulls belonging to a precursor of man, at the Piltdown Quarry in Sussex, England. Charles Dawson also found a tool crafted from an elephants tusk, a canine tooth and other teeth, supposedly from several prehistoric animals. A few paleontologists were skeptical, but most members of the scientific fraternity called this Piltdown Man the missing link between ape and man. Dawson estimated the pieces to be up to a million years old. But in the 1920s and 1930s, other finds cast the authenticity of the Piltdown Man into question. A new test, called fluorine absorption, proved that the relics were quite modern, and a mixture of ape and man fossils rather than a cross between the two. Then, in 1953, paleontologists discovered that the teeth were altered with a file, and that the skull and jaw pieces were no more than 600 years old. They also found that the bones were treated with chemicals to make them appear older.
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