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At a meeting of the Geological Society of London, in December 1912, the fossil remains of what was claimed to be a new type of early human, Eoanthropus dawsoni, or ‘Piltdown Man’, were unveiled to the world.
 
At a meeting of the Geological Society of London, in December 1912, the fossil remains of what was claimed to be a new type of early human, Eoanthropus dawsoni, or ‘Piltdown Man’, were unveiled to the world.
  
It appeared that irrefutable evidence had at last been found for the much sought-after ‘missing link’ between man and ape.
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It appeared that irrefutable evidence had been found at last for the sought-after ‘missing link’ between man and ape.
  
 
It was not until the 1950s that Piltdown Man was proved to be a forgery.
 
It was not until the 1950s that Piltdown Man was proved to be a forgery.
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Staff of the [http://www.nhm.ac.uk/ Natural History Museum] (previously the British Museum (Natural History)), the [http://www.geolsoc.org.uk/ Geological Society], and the British Geological Survey (previously H.M. Geological Survey) were all involved with Piltdown — from discovery to unmasking. Some have been implicated in the forgery itself.
 
Staff of the [http://www.nhm.ac.uk/ Natural History Museum] (previously the British Museum (Natural History)), the [http://www.geolsoc.org.uk/ Geological Society], and the British Geological Survey (previously H.M. Geological Survey) were all involved with Piltdown — from discovery to unmasking. Some have been implicated in the forgery itself.
  
Archivists at the Natural History Museum, the Geological Society and the British Geological Survey have pooled their resources to create a web-based exhibition telling the story of Piltdown Man’s discovery.
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Archivists at the Natural History Museum, the Geological Society and the British Geological Survey pooled their resources to create a web-based exhibition telling the story of Piltdown Man’s discovery.
  
The [https://cdn.knightlab.com/libs/timeline3/latest/embed/index.html?source=1CRfWO3BUSqqhI3tvNEmfEjtNySagoBiR2jPtc05vzGU&font=Default&lang=en&initial_zoom=2&height=650 Piltdown Timeline] reveals the history of the forgery and the identity of the individuals accused of complicity or culpability in the affair.
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The [https://cdn.knightlab.com/libs/timeline3/latest/embed/index.html?source=1CRfWO3BUSqqhI3tvNEmfEjtNySagoBiR2jPtc05vzGU&font=Default&lang=en&initial_zoom=2&height=650 Piltdown Timeline] reveals the history of the forgery and the identity of individuals that have been accused of complicity or culpability in the affair.
  
The Piltdown story provides a cautionary lesson on how scientists can get things wrong and how science, when applied correctly, can reveal error and malpractice.
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The Piltdown story provides a cautionary lesson of how scientists can get things wrong and how science, when applied correctly, can reveal error and malpractice.
  
 
== Timeline ==
 
== Timeline ==
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| style="vertical-align:top;" | 1863
 
| style="vertical-align:top;" | 1863
| style="vertical-align:top;" | Neanderthal Man (''Homo neanderthalensis'')
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| style="vertical-align:top;" | Neanderthal Man (H. neanderthalensis)
| style="vertical-align:top;" | Fossil remains of ancient man had been found in Belgium (1829) and Gibraltar (1848), but had been either misinterpreted or ignored. In 1856 a human skullcap and partial skeleton of peculiar form were recovered from a cave in the Neander Valley (Neanderthal), near Düsseldorf. Thought to represent ‘a barbarous and savage race’, the remains were recognised in 1863 as a distinct species, ''Homo neanderthalensis''. By the end of the 19th century many more examples of ‘Neanderthal Man’ had been discovered. It was clear however that despite his somewhat bestial appearance Neanderthal Man was anatomically only slightly removed from modern humans (''Homo sapiens'') and was not the ‘missing link’.
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| style="vertical-align:top;" | Fossil remains of ancient man had been found in Belgium (1829) and Gibraltar (1848), but had been either misinterpreted or ignored. In 1856 a human skullcap and partial skeleton of peculiar form were recovered from a cave in the Neander Valley (Neanderthal), near Düsseldorf. Thought to represent ‘a barbarous and savage race’, the remains were recognised in 1863 as a distinct species, Homo neanderthalensis. By the end of the 19th century many more examples of ‘Neanderthal Man’ had been discovered. It was clear however that despite the somewhat bestial appearance Neanderthal Man was anatomically only slightly removed from modern humans (Homo sapiens) and was not the ‘missing link’.
 
| style="vertical-align:top;" | [[File:Piltdown 003.jpg|150px|Neanderthal Man cranium from Gibraltar © Natural History Museum (Piltdown Image: 011896)]]
 
| style="vertical-align:top;" | [[File:Piltdown 003.jpg|150px|Neanderthal Man cranium from Gibraltar © Natural History Museum (Piltdown Image: 011896)]]
 
|-
 
|-
 
| style="vertical-align:top;"  | 1891
 
| style="vertical-align:top;"  | 1891
| style="vertical-align:top;" | Java Man (''Homo erectus'')
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| style="vertical-align:top;" | Java Man (Homo erectus)
| style="vertical-align:top;" | In 1891 Eugène Dubois found an ape-like skullcap, a human-looking thighbone and two molar teeth on the banks of the Solo River in eastern Java. He named his discovery ''Pithecanthropus erectus'', meaning ‘upright ape-man’, believing it to be the ‘missing link’. Yet doubts were soon expressed concerning the geological age and mutual relations of the finds. Some scientists considered the skullcap to belong to a giant gibbon! It would be some 40 years before further discoveries in China and Java confirmed Java Man as an early primitive human, now reclassified as ''Homo erectus''.  
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| style="vertical-align:top;" | In 1891 Eugène Dubois found an ape-like skullcap, a human-looking thighbone and two molar teeth on the banks of the Solo River in eastern Java. He named his discovery Pithecanthropus erectus, meaning ‘upright ape-man’, believing it to be the ‘missing link’. Yet doubts were soon expressed concerning the geological age and mutual relations of the finds. Some scientists considered the skullcap to belong to a giant gibbon! It would be some 40 years before further discoveries in China and Java would confirm Java Man as an early primitive human, now reclassified as Homo erectus.  
 
| style="vertical-align:top;" | [[File:Piltdown 004.jpg|150px|Java Man from Sangiran, Java. © Natural History Museum (Image: 045086)]]
 
| style="vertical-align:top;" | [[File:Piltdown 004.jpg|150px|Java Man from Sangiran, Java. © Natural History Museum (Image: 045086)]]
 
|-
 
|-
 
| style="vertical-align:top;" | 1907
 
| style="vertical-align:top;" | 1907
| style="vertical-align:top;" | Heidelberg Man (''Homo heidelbergensis'')
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| style="vertical-align:top;" | Heidelberg Man (Homo heidelbergensis)
| style="vertical-align:top;" | In 1907 Daniel Hartmann discovered a fossil human jaw in a sandpit at Mauer in south-west Germany. The jaw was passed to Dr Otto Schoetensack of the University of Heidelberg who named it ''Homo heidelbergensis'' after the university. There was no doubt that the jaw, which lacked a modern chin, belonged to a primitive human far older than Neanderthal Man. The discovery of the Heidelberg jaw was received with great interest in England and Charles Dawson, a noted amateur archaeologist and geologist, set out to find England’s answer to Heidelberg Man. The stage was set for Piltdown Man to make his debut.  
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| style="vertical-align:top;" | In 1907 Daniel Hartmann discovered a fossil human jaw in a sandpit at Mauer in south-west Germany. The jaw was passed to Dr Otto Schoetensack of the University of Heidelberg who named it Homo heidelbergensis after the university. There was no doubt that the jaw, which lacked a modern chin, belonged to a primitive human far older than Neanderthal Man. The discovery of the Heidelberg jaw was received with great interest in England and Charles Dawson, a noted amateur archaeologist and geologist, set out to find England’s answer to Heidelberg Man. The stage was set for Piltdown Man to make his debut.  
 
| style="vertical-align:top;" | [[File:Piltdown 005.jpg|150px|Heidelberg Man (Homo heidelbergensis): from Broken Hill Mine, Kabwe, Zambia.© Natural History Museum (Image: 045086)]]
 
| style="vertical-align:top;" | [[File:Piltdown 005.jpg|150px|Heidelberg Man (Homo heidelbergensis): from Broken Hill Mine, Kabwe, Zambia.© Natural History Museum (Image: 045086)]]
 
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The novel ''The Piltdown Confession ''by Irwin Schwartz (1994) is narrated by Charles Dawson, features Teilhard de Chardin and Conan Doyle and includes a murder mystery.
 
The novel ''The Piltdown Confession ''by Irwin Schwartz (1994) is narrated by Charles Dawson, features Teilhard de Chardin and Conan Doyle and includes a murder mystery.
 
In F DiPietro’s ''The Piltdown latitudes'' (2004) it is not at all clear what connection this disturbingly funny and weirdly surreal novel has with the subject of Piltdown, unless it be in regard to the identity of the perpetrator of the novel’s crime!
 
  
 
In 2018, Nick Flittner published ''Piltdown Man: The Man Who Never Was'', a poem that tells the story of the forgery from various points of view including those of Arthur Smith Woodward, Charles Dawson, Venus Hargreaves, J S Weiner and even Piltdown Man himself!
 
In 2018, Nick Flittner published ''Piltdown Man: The Man Who Never Was'', a poem that tells the story of the forgery from various points of view including those of Arthur Smith Woodward, Charles Dawson, Venus Hargreaves, J S Weiner and even Piltdown Man himself!

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