You are here
Home > All > Who perpetrated the Piltdown Man hoax?

Who perpetrated the Piltdown Man hoax?

Next weeks marks the 100th anniversary of the “discovery” of Piltdown Man, the missing link. It turns out it was all a cleverly executed hoax, and now researchers are trying to identify who perpetrated it.

There are many suspects but the favourite is Charles Dawson, who was a solicitor and amateur fossil hunter. He ‘found’ pieces of a thick human-like skull in gravel beds at Piltdown in Sussex, and supposedly made further finds at a second site two miles away in 1915.

In 1912, he wrote a letter to the then Keeper of Geology at the Museum, Arthur Smith Woodward, and they joined forces to unearth more skull pieces, and an ape-like jaw fragment containing 2 teeth.

[Full story]

Story: Natural History Museum | Photo: Natural History Museum

One thought on “Who perpetrated the Piltdown Man hoax?

  1. Actually, Arthur Conan Doyle, creator of Sherlock Holmes (and a neighbor of Dawson’s), has been bandied about as a likely candidate as the perpetrator of the Piltdown hoax. In his Professor Challenger adventure, “The Lost World,” Doyle actually leaves a clue to this when the book’s hero remarks that the non-fossilized bone of a prehistoric animal looks genuine, Challenger, playing Devil’s Advocate, responds with something to the effect of “A bone can be faked as easily as a photograph!” It’s possible that Doyle was just testing the theory by trumping up an orangutang’s jaw with a human brain-pan (or whatever it was, I read this a pretty long time ago!)

Leave a Reply