The Piltdown Man Hoax

The Piltdown Man Hoax

Perhaps the most compelling evidence used by the proponents of human evolution are the reputed fossils of transitional humans, also known as the “missing links.” Textbooks and museum displays have many elaborate illustrations and models of what these alleged human ancestors may have looked like. Almost everyone has seen the famous progressive painting with an ape on one end and a man on the other. This drawing was initially called the Road to Homo Sapiens. It was an illustration commissioned by Time-Life Books for the 1965 volume entitled Early Man. Many people saw this drawing have been deceived into believing that it illustrates man’s evolution and have rejected the Genesis account as a result. Here’s the problem, it’s just a drawing folks. It has no scientific significance, zero, zilch, nada! It’s certainly is not evidence of human evolution.

As it turns out, all of the so-called “human ancestors” fit into one of three categories:

1) fully human;
2) fully ape; or,
3) fully hoax.

The only exception to these three categories is Nebraska Man, discovered in Nebraska in 1922. Nebraska Man was officially named Hesperopithecus, which meant “ape of the western world.” It was heralded as the first higher primate of North America. The entire discovery consisted of a single tooth, which was later identified as the tooth of Prosthennops, an extinct pig.

But the most infamous of all the “missing link” hoaxes is the Piltdown Man. Piltdown is a small town in England about forty miles south of London. In 1908 workers at a gravel pit in Piltdown discovered a fossil that looked like a part of a human skull. The worker gave this artifact to Charles Dawson, who was a lawyer and a respected amateur geologist. In 1912 Dawson presented his findings to the British Museum as an early human ancestor. The “discovery” attracted the attention of a French paleontologist and Roman Catholic priest named Pierre Teilhard de Chardin. The two, along with Arthur Smith Woodward, of the British Museum, would complete a series of digs at the gravel site and declare their findings the first Englishman, Eoanthropus dawsoini a/k/a Piltdown Man. The skull looked like a modern skull except for the jawbone (mandible) and a tooth that seemed distinctively non-human.

The gravel pit turned out to be the mass grave of people who had died in a plague less than a thousand years earlier. It was not until 1953 that Piltdown Man was exposed as a hoax, forty years after the well-publicized “discovery.” During that time, Piltdown Man was represented as evidence of human evolution. It was widely referenced by the evolutionists of the day. Hundreds of doctoral dissertations were based upon this forged fossil. In 1982, with modern scientific methods, the mandible and the tooth of Piltdown Man were identified as belonging to an orangutan. Orangutans live in Borneo and Sumatra. It is unlikely that the bones ended up in a gravel pit in England by accident. Over the ensuing years, the hoax has been blamed on a dozen different people, including Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, the creator of Sherlock Holmes. But what is essential to take away from this story is that scientists should have discovered this hoax immediately. However, because Piltdown Man fit the narrative of the day, they looked the other way and allowed this hoax to persist for more than forty years. We need to be critical when we hear about the discovery of a “transitional” human form. We should be skeptical because we know that evolution did not, and could not, have happened.

Remember, Creation Happened, and you can believe it.

For a more detailed treatment of this issue, see the book Bones of Contention by Marvin Lubenow, a tremendous resource for people who want to know the truth about human evolution.