Harrison, Terry Department of Anthropology, Paleoanthropology Laboratory, New York University, New York, New York.
Howells, W. W. Department of Anthropology, Peabody Museum, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts.
- Initial significance
- Related Primary Literature
- Additional Reading
An alleged fossil human based on craniodental fragments that were eventually discovered to constitute a skillful hoax. The Piltdown man hoax was the scientifically most successful fraud in the history of anthropology. Between 1908 and 1914, Charles Dawson, a lawyer and amateur prehistorian, and his associates, claimed to have recovered craniodental remains of a fossil human ancestor, along with primitive tools and mammalian fossils, from Barkham Manor near Piltdown in Sussex, southern England. The skull fragments included a partial braincase with relatively thick bone, but otherwise the skull was similar to that of modern humans in having a relatively large braincase, steep forehead, and poorly developed bony ridge above the eye sockets (see illustration). The lower canine was apelike in being quite large, but it had a humanlike wear pattern. The fragmentary lower jaw was missing many of the critical parts useful for distinguishing humans from apes, such as the articular condyle (the region of the lower jaw that articulates with the base of the cranium) and the chin region, but it was generally similar to that of great apes. The molar teeth had flat wear, resembling those of humans. Overall, the skull provided an excellent intermediate stage between apes and humans, suggesting that brain expansion had preceded facial specialization during the course of human evolution. The associated fauna, the simple flaked stone tools (called eoliths), and the geology all indicated that the human finds were early Pleistocene in age (in current terms, a period dating to 2–1 million years ago), older than any fossil human discovered prior to that time. See also: Fossil; Fossil humans
The content above is only an excerpt.
for your institution. Subscribe
To learn more about subscribing to AccessScience, or to request a no-risk trial of this award-winning scientific reference for your institution, fill in your information and a member of our Sales Team will contact you as soon as possible.
to your librarian. Recommend
Let your librarian know about the award-winning gateway to the most trustworthy and accurate scientific information.
AccessScience provides the most accurate and trustworthy scientific information available.
Recognized as an award-winning gateway to scientific knowledge, AccessScience is an amazing online resource that contains high-quality reference material written specifically for students. Contributors include more than 9000 highly qualified scientists and 43 Nobel Prize winners.
MORE THAN 8700 articles covering all major scientific disciplines and encompassing the McGraw-Hill Encyclopedia of Science & Technology and McGraw-Hill Yearbook of Science & Technology
115,000-PLUS definitions from the McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Scientific and Technical Terms
3000 biographies of notable scientific figures
MORE THAN 19,000 downloadable images and animations illustrating key topics
ENGAGING VIDEOS highlighting the life and work of award-winning scientists
SUGGESTIONS FOR FURTHER STUDY and additional readings to guide students to deeper understanding and research
LINKS TO CITABLE LITERATURE help students expand their knowledge using primary sources of information