Archaeology Magazine

A publication of the Archaeological Institute of America

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Who Was Behind the Piltdown Man Hoax?

Thursday, December 13, 2012

J. Arthur Thomson, The Outline of Science, 1922LONDON—Chris Stringer and a team of researchers from London’s National History Museum want to solve the mystery behind the Piltdown Man hoax. Charles Dawson, an amateur fossil hunter, is the prime suspect in the case. He claimed to have found the notorious, human-like skull fragments and the jaw pieces, which probably came from a young orangutan, and dubbed them the “missing link” between humans and apes. Other suspects include a museum curator, a Jesuit priest, and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Scientists proved the skull pieces to be fakes in the early 1950s, but Stringer and his team will use modern techniques that may eventually point to a culprit.