When the discovery was revealed as an "economic fraud" several eminent men, including Sir Arthur Conan Doyle - were put through. Now, scientists aim to end this mystery once and for all
In a few weeks, a group of British researchers in the store the maze of the Natural History Museum of London and removed several pieces of dark colored skull and jaw of a primate to a metal cabinet. After a brief inspection, the team will wrap the items in protective foam and delivery in a number of laboratories across England. There, the bones and teeth, which were based in the museum most of the last century, will go through a sequence of tests with high sensitivity using infrared scanners, lasers and spectroscopy reveals powerful relic for each chemical makeup accurate.
The purpose of this study, which will take weeks to complete, is simple. It was created to solve a mystery that has puzzled researchers for 100 years: the perpetrators of major scientific fraud in the world, the Piltdown fraud. Discovered in a gravel pit at Piltdown in Sussex, and revealed to the outside world exactly a century ago, the skull fragments were part of a scientific fraud that completely fooled the leading paleontologists. For decades it was believed they were the remains of a man-ape millions of years, an individual who had a large brain, but the primitive jaw and teeth.
News of the Piltdown find, first published in late 1912, caused a sensation. The English were first discovered, and was not only intelligent, he was sporting. An elephant bone carved, found near the skull fragments and interpreted by scientists as an artifact of ceremony, it was said jokingly by many commentators as a cricket bat first. English first with his own cricket bat - if nothing else was in the eye to the French and German archaeologists whose discoveries of Cro-Magnons, Neanderthals and other early humans had been making headlines since decades. Now England had a real rival fossil.
was too good to be true. As decades have occurred, scientists from other countries has found fossils increasingly early hominid that differed substantially from the Piltdown man. "They were relatively small skull, but teeth like humans - the opposite of Piltdown," says Professor Chris Stringer of the Natural History Museum, who heads the new study. "However, many British scientists are not the taken seriously because of Piltdown. They reached these conclusions, we now know they are authentic and important. Really damaged the British science. "
the end, the Piltdown Man began to appear as out of sequence with other fossil finds that a team led by geologist Kenneth Oakley, Wilfred Le Gros Clark anatomist and anthropologist Joseph Weiner took a closer look closely and in 1953 announced that the Piltdown skull belonged to a more modern man, while the jaw of an orangutan of wine or a chimpanzee. Each piece had been stained to look as if it were the same skull, while the teeth were flattened with a metal file and "cricket bat" carved with a knife. As archaeologist Miles Russell of Bournemouth University
said. "Before the English was not just a financial fraud" It took almost 40 years to discover that, however.
Since then, more than 30 individuals have been accused of being infringers Piltdown. Charles Dawson, the amateur archaeological discovered the first pieces was almost certainly in question. However, many scientists suspect always had the support of experts who were the real culprits. Candidates include Arthur Conan Doyle, who played golf at Piltdown and had filed a complaint against scientists because of their spiritual beliefs, the Jesuit philosopher, paleontologist and the alleged prankster Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, who lived in Sussex to the time and that really helped Piltdown excavation Dawson, Arthur Smith Woodward, the Museum of Natural History Scientific, which is accepted as authentic and Dawson argued that belonged to a new species of early man, the anatomist Arthur Keith, who also passionately approval of the discovery, and Martin Hinton, another scientist at the museum, whose initials were found in mid-70s, 10 years after his death, a portmanteau of old cloth, hidden in an attic of the museum, which contains the teeth and bones of mammals and colorful carved in the shape of the Piltdown fossils. When it comes to suspected fraud Piltdown ago Midsomer
"The problem is that after 100 years still do not know the identity or motivations of those responsible," said Justin Dix, a geochemist at the University of Southampton, who performed most of chemical analysis. "It's time you did." Thus the new project, which aims to discover the identities of the forgers. And that's the key to discovering the exact chemical composition of mat-Wasteland -. And the precise sequence of events leading to his discovery
On the morning of February 15, 1912, Arthur Smith Woodward, head of geology at the Natural History Museum, sitting at his desk to open your mail, which included a letter from his friend Charles Dawson, a lawyer and amateur antiquarian. Dawson began with rumors about their knowledge of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, who just finished his latest novel, the prehistoric adventure
The Lost World . Then he dropped his bomb. He had met a very old gravel near a town called Piltdown, where he had found some colored stones and iron ", a part of a human skull." It was the first mention, made with the outside world, the fossils would be known as the Piltdown man.
In subsequent correspondence, Dawson - known as the Wizard of Sussex, because of its ability to find archaeological treasures around the county - has found that at a dinner at the Manor Barkham on Piltdown, who went to a walk and took note of flint scattered in the gardens, the remains from the excavations of gravel used for construction of local roads. Dawson asked workers to give him some interesting results and was rewarded when presented with "a portion of human skull ... of enormous thickness." The lawyer then found another piece of skull - although no specific date was provided for him. Was not the worker who identified himself.
In May, Smith Woodward took charge of the first pieces of the Piltdown skull, and concluded that they belonged to a human being hitherto unknown in the beginning called Eoanthropus dawsoni
- Dawson dawn of humanity. Excavations have continued to Barkham Manor and a number of stone tools were found with pieces of bones and animal remains, including hippopotamus teeth used to ride around water holes in the old days of English. On November 21, 1912, the
broke the story. Under the title "The First Man in Sussex remarkable discovery," the newspaper revealed details of the skull, with an estimated age between 500,000 and 1 million years, was "by far the oldest known to mankind n ' is not found in England. "
excavations at Piltdown, he said. In August 1913, Father Teilhard de Chardin, who became one of the most influential scholars of the 20th century philosophers and the Jesuits and lived in Sussex, joined and found a dog is supposed to have come from man- monkey - a discovery that has been linked since the conspiracy theories of Piltdown. Finally came the discovery of the cricket bat. The Piltdown fraud was complete.
In 1915, Dawn Dawson, the man had become an established scientific fact. The painting A discussion of the Piltdown skull
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