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Palaeontology

Scientists reconstruct the face of the infamous 'Piltdown Man'

By T.K. Randall
January 4, 2024 · Comment icon 1 comment
Facial reconstruction of Piltdown Man.
Piltdown Man isn't real, but this is what he would have looked like if he was. Image Credit: Cicero Moraes
This is what Piltdown Man would have looked like if he didn't also happen to be one of the world's most infamous hoaxes.
A fossil primate skull hailed as the 'missing link' between modern man and our primate ancestors, Piltdown Man generated much excitement when it was first unveiled in London back in 1912.

Allegedly discovered in Sussex, the skull exhibited a remarkable combination of features from both man and ape such as a chimp-like jaw and a set of teeth which seemed both human and ape-like.

The reason for this, however, would eventually become clear - the entire thing was an elaborate hoax.

By 1953, scientists had determined that the skull was actually a combination of human and orangutan bones dating back only a few centuries.
Whoever was responsible had gone to extreme lengths to make it seem convincing, even going as far as to artificially age the fossil fragments by meticulously filing them and staining them with acid.

The fossil was described as "so entirely unscrupulous and inexplicable as to find no parallel in the history of paleontological discover."

The culprit, it turned out, was lawyer and amateur geologist Charles Dawson.

Now, over 100 years on from the fossil's initial unveiling, the face of Piltdown Man has been reconstructed by a team of researchers including forensic expert and 3D illustrator Cicero Moraes.

The resulting image (viewable above) demonstrates what this non-existent human ancestor might have looked like if he had actually been a genuine person.

Source: IFL Science | Comments (1)




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