Dawson, Charles

Charles Dawson was a well-known doctor and amateur paleontologist who claimed to have discovered a jawbone and skull fragment in a pit near Piltdown in England in 1912. Although the jawbone resembled that of an ape, the teeth and skull resembled those of a human being. This fossil, known as Piltdown Man and estimated to be roughly 500,000 years old, was depicted as incontrovertible evidence of the evolution of man.

However, carbon- dating tests carried out from 1949 to 1953 revealed that the skull was indeed human, but only 500 years old, and that the jaw belonged to a recently dead orangutan. In addition, the teeth had been deliberately added to the jawbone afterwards, arranged and filed in order to give the impression they belonged to a human. All the fragments had been later dyed with potassium dichromate in order to give them an aged appearance. Thereafter, Piltdown Man went down as the greatest scandal in the history of science. (See Piltdown Man.)

2009-08-15 11:49:26

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