Class Notes (838,544)
Canada (510,935)
Anthropology (2,038)
ANT203H5 (99)

Lecture 29 - Lessons from the Past: the Piltdown Forgery

4 Pages
Unlock Document

Esteban Parra

ANT203Y5 – BiologicalAnthropology Lecture 29 – March 11, 2014 Lessons from the Past: the Piltdown Forgery The Background - At the turn of the 20 century, the fossil remains attributed to the human family were very scarce, and contested. The Neander Valley Man - In 1856, workers in a limestone quarry near Dusseldorf (Germany), discovered a primitive-looking skull and other bones. These remains were interpreted in many different ways by the scientist of the time. o This is the name to the famous Neandertals o 1856 is earlier than the publication of Darwin’s book The Java Man - Later, in 1891, Eugene Dubois, a Dutch anatomist, discovered in Java a skull cap with a very primitive morphology. Again, this finding was very controversial at the time o Species: Homo Erectus o Some people thought it was part of the human lineage, while others didn’t Interpreting Human Evolution - During the first decade of the 20 , anthropologists were struggling to understand how human evolution happened. - Which human adaptation came first, large brains, or bipedalism? The Discovery of “Piltdown man” - In 1912, Charles Dawson, an amateur archeologist, discovered in Piltdown (South England), some fossils that were regarded as relevant to understand human origins. - It was a “missing-link” between apes and humans. The Fossils - The Piltdown fossils consisted of human-like skull fragments and an ape-like jaw - An ape-like canine tooth was also discovered a little bit later. - Fossils of extinct animals, such as mastodon, beaver, hippopotamus, horse, and primitive elephant, were found in the same stratum, seemingly confirming the antiquity of the human remains The Interpretation - The Piltdown fossil was accepted by many prominent anthropologists, and favored the hypothesis that large brains developed very early in the process of human evolution. - Conclusion: Large brains came first!! o At the beginning there was a lot of controversy, where people either supported or didn’t support the fossil findings More Fossils Found in Piltdown - Some scientists thought that the cranium and the jaw didn’t belong to the same individual, but to a human and an ape, respectively. - However, the announcement of a second fossil in 1915, greatly reduced the skepticism of the scientific establishment about the “Piltdown man”. ANT203Y5 – BiologicalAnthropology Lecture 29 – March 11, 2014 ALittle Bit Later, in SouthAfrica… - Raymond Dart, a young anatomist working in SouthAfrica, found in 1924 the fossil skull of a juvenile ape with a small brain, but some interesting human-like features In the Human Lineage - Dart’s fossil, which he named Australopithecus africanus, had an ape sized brain, but some dental and postural characteristics closer to humans. He thought A. africanus was intermediate between apes and humans o The Taung Child o Dart found that the brain was really small, and the teeth and the face was more modern looking than the Piltdown o Because of this many people thought that this was a juvenile ape, and not an ape o But today, we now know that Dart was correct for classifying the Taung Child as an early part of the human lineage ACold Reception… - However, very few anthropologists accepted Dart’s ideas, and he was severely criticized. - Most anthropologists believed the Taung Child was just a juvenile ape. - These are some of the reasons… o All early human fossils are found inAfrica Wrong Time, Wrong Place… - They considered that the Taung Child was just a juvenile ape, resembling humans more than adult apes. - Everyone was looking somewhere else, Europe (Neandertal man) and Asia (Java man). - A. africanus, with a small brain and human-like teeth, contradicted the generally accepted view of hominids having large brains and ape-like jaws (Piltdown man). 23 Years of Frustration - It took 23 years
More Less

Related notes for ANT203H5

Log In


Join OneClass

Access over 10 million pages of study
documents for 1.3 million courses.

Sign up

Join to view


By registering, I agree to the Terms and Privacy Policies
Already have an account?
Just a few more details

So we can recommend you notes for your school.

Reset Password

Please enter below the email address you registered with and we will send you a link to reset your password.

Add your courses

Get notes from the top students in your class.