In 1908, a workman digging in a gravel pit in the Sussex hamlet of Piltdown discovered a fragment of a human cranium's parietal bone. He delivered it to Charles Dawson, an amateur geologist and antiquarian, thus setting off one of the most controversial and bizarre episodes in the study of human paleontology. For the next 40 years Eoanthropus clawsoni was a respected member of modern man's family tree, and a representation of this distinguished ancestor stood proudly in the American Museum of Natural History's Hall of Man. Then, in 1950, the so-called Putdown Man was shown to have been an elaborate hoax perpetrated by pranksters unknown to this day. Careers were both made and unmade by the affair and the exposure of the fraud helped fuel the antievolution movement that thrives even today. In his book The Piltdown Inquest (Prometheus Books, 1986), Charles Blinderman tells the story of Putdown Man...
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