He was the expected "missing link" a mixture of human and ape with the noble brow of Homo sapiens and a primitive jaw. As the years went by and new finds of ancient hominids were made, Piltdown man became an anomaly that didn't fit in, a creature without a place in the human family tree. Piltdown man was a hoax, the most ancient of people who never were. My principal source for the original version of this page is Ronald Millar's The Piltdown Men.
This book is an account of the entire Piltdown affair from beginning to end, including not merely the circumstances but the general background of the paleontology and evolutionary theory with respect to human ancestry during the period 1850-1950.
During the discussion I checked the web and discovered that Piltdown man did not have a home page.
I resolved to eliminate this deficiency in the scholarly resources of the world wide web; here, for your delectation, is Piltdown man's home page.
Supposedly Dawson and an anonymous friend make the discovery 1915; however the friend and the location of the find are unknown. On the whole the British paleontologists were enthusiastic; the French and American paleontologists tended to be skeptical, some objected quite vociferously.
The objectors held that the jawbone and the skull were obviously from two different animals and that their discovery together was simply an accident of placement.
In 1856 the first Neanderthal fossil discovery was made and the hunt was on to find fossil remains of human ancestors.
In the next half century finds were made in continental Europe and in Asia but not in Britain.
There are brief biographies and a bibliography with internal links to them through out the text.
A number of important books have also been written on the hoax, e.g. ] [Myths] [People] [References] [Web Sites] In following the history of the hoax it is useful to have a time line showing the principal events. 1912 -- November: News breaks in the popular press 1912 -- December: Official presentation of Piltdown man 1913 -- August: the canine tooth is found by Teilhard 1914 -- Tool made from fossil elephant thigh bone found 1914 -- Talgai (Australia) man found, considered confirming of Piltdown 1915 -- Piltdown II found by Dawson (according to Woodward) 1916 -- Dawson dies.
works by Spencer, Weiner, Blinderman, and Walsh, and have been valuable resources. The time line runs as follows: 1856 -- Neanderthal man discovered 1856 -- Dryopithecus discovered 1859 -- Origin of Species published 1863 -- Moulin Quignon forgeries exposed 1869 -- Cro Magnon man discovered 1871 -- The Descent of Man published 1890 -- Java Man discovered 1898 -- Galley hill "man" discovered [modern, misinterpreted] 1903 -- First molar of Peking man found 1907 -- Heidelberg man discovered 1908 -- Dawson (1908-1911) discovers first Piltdown fragments 1909 -- Dawson and Teilhard de Chardin meet 1912 -- February: Dawson contacts Woodward about first skull fragments 1912 -- June: Dawson, Woodward, and Teilhard form digging team 1912 -- June: Team finds elephant molar, skull fragment 1912 -- June: Right parietal skull bones and the jaw bone discovered 1912 -- Summer: Barlow, Pycraft, G. 1917 -- Woodward announces discovery of Piltdown II.
1921 -- Osborn and Gregory "converted" by Piltdown II. 1934 -- Ramapithecus discovered 1935 -- Many (38 individuals) Peking man fossils have been found. 1937 -- Marston attacks Piltdown age estimate, cites Edmonds.
1921 -- Rhodesian man discovered 1923 -- Teilhard arrives in China. 1941 -- Peking man fossils lost in military action. 1948 -- Woodward publishes The Earliest Englishman 1949 -- Fluorine content test establishes Piltdown man as relatively recent.
Finally, I wish to thank Gerrell Drawhorn ([email protected]) who has provided a copy of his 1994 paper for inclusion at this site. In 1912 Charles Dawson discovered the first of two skulls found in the Piltdown quarry in Sussex, England, skulls of an apparently primitive hominid, an ancestor of man.