Piltdown man

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Related to Piltdown man: Java man

Piltdown man,

name given to human remains found during excavations (1908–15) at Piltdown, Sussex, England, by Charles Dawson. The find led to much speculation and argument. Since they were found with remains of mammals of the Lower Pleistocene epoch, they were supposed to belong to a "Piltdown man" who lived 200,000 to 1,000,000 years ago. Many scientists doubted the whole proposition. They were justified when fluorine tests showed in 1950 that the Piltdown fossil was no more than 50,000 years old. X-ray analysis proved that the jaw was from a chimpanzee; further tests demonstrated conclusively that the jaw and tooth were of modern origin.

There has been much speculation concerning who was responsible for the hoax: Dawson; Arthur Smith Woodward, the paleontologist who identified the fossils as hominin remains; Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, who was present during some of the excavations; Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, who lived nearby and knew Dawson; and others. In 1996, on the basis of evidence found in a trunk in the British Museum, it was suggested that the zoologist Martin A. C. Hinton planted the remains to embarrass Woodward, but other researchers have argued that the evidence most strongly points to Dawson.


See J. S. Weiner, The Piltdown Forgery (1955); R. W. Millar, The Piltdown Men (1972); F. Spencer, Piltdown: A Scientific Forgery (1990); M. Russell, Piltdown Man: The Secret Life of Charles Dawson (2003).

Piltdown man

[′pilt‚dau̇n ‚man]
An alleged fossil man based on fragments of a skull and mandible that were eventually discovered to constitute a skillful hoax.

Piltdown man

missing link turned out to be orangutan. [Br. Hist.: Wallechinsky, 46; Time, October 13, 1978, 82]
See: Hoax
References in periodicals archive ?
Of course the photographs of the people that were involved in the Piltdown Man look as though they were taken a long time ago but the text is still as readable today as it was 50 years ago.
However, they counter that students should have a disdain for what they maintain is false science such as vestigial organs, recapitulation, Piltdown Man, Java Man, ad infinitum.
Also house in the British Museum, the Piltdown Man was exposed as a fake in 1953.
One was the Piltdown Man, used for 40 years to claim evolution, until proven to be deceptively stained human teeth.
Thus, within three weeks of the public announcement of Piltdown Man, Teilhard was expressing the view that the field of palaeoanthropology had gone through a period when it deserved to be the subject of jokes.
1912: The Piltdown Man was supposedly found in a gravel pit.
It was much less sophisticated than the Piltdown Man hoax of 1912, in which scientists claimed to have found the "missing link" between humans and apes, he said.
Big Sean always had more in common with Piltdown man than vodka martini man.
PILTDOWN Man was allegedly the skull of the missing link and fooled many scientists - it was actually an ape's jaw fitted to a human skull.
To others the biggest con-trick perpetrated on the public since the Piltdown Man.
THE archeological world went mad in 1912 when lawyer Charles Dawson, a keen amateur geologist, discovered the "Missing Link" - the 500,000- year-old bones of Piltdown Man.