A retrospective on the Piltdown doubters

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Darren Naish has a very nice post about one aspect of the saga of Piltdown Man: the scientists who never believed that the jaw and calvaria of the specimen actually belonged to a single individual. The post, “Piltdown Man and the Dualist Contention”, mentions several scientists including Franz Weidenreich and William King Gregory, but spends the most time reviewing the reactions of Gerrit Smith Miller and Aleš Hrdlička.

Long prior to 1953 however, certain other anthropologists, primatologists and mammalogists were of the opinion that the cranium and jaw of Piltdown I did not go together, and that while the cranium was human, the jaw was from a chimpanzee or some other non-human ape. In fact, some workers voiced doubts about the authenticity of Woodward’s reconstruction within just two or three years of 1912. We might even go as far as saying that quite a few anthropologists and mammalogists of the early 1900s would not have been surprised on learning that it was a hoax, and some might even have suspected that this is exactly what it was.