Thursday, November 20, 2008

They Pilted Us with Rocks and Fauxssils

Fifty-five years ago this Friday one of the greatest hoaxes (hoci?) in scientific history was finally debunked--it was revealed that Newton was conked in the noggin by an apple, and not a fig, despite Nabisco's claims to the contrary. Seriously, on November 21, 1953 they carbon dated Pitldown Man, the supposed English missing link fossil, and discovered he was a woman for the dating didn't work--turns out even fossilized women won't reveal their age. Even more seriously-er, they found out the remains were of a relatively current homo sapiens skull, an orangutan's jaw, and a chimpanzee's teeth. Of course the orang and chimp were bitter, but this was in the day before laws banned practical jokes that hurt animals. It is surprising that people believed in Piltdown for four decades, especially when Feltup Man was so quickly goosed out of the scientific literature. It is particularly odd as Charles Dawson, the person who made the "discovery," was famous for discovering other things that weren't really science, or really real (little known fact: the Creationist Museum in Kentucky is named after him). The list of Dawson's fraud's include the Pevensey bricks (allegedly the latest datable "finds" from Roman Britain, when, evidently, people dated bricks: "do you come to this patio often?"), Paulson's bailout (just checking to see if you're reading), the Bulverhythe Hammer (the remains of the career of former Rookie-of-the-Year Bob Hamelin), a fraudulent "Chinese" bronze vase (the "made in China" stamp on the bottom was a giveaway), the Brighton 'Toad in the Hole' (while people could believe in a fossilized sausage, no one believed a Yorkshire pudding could survive through the aeons), the Uckfield Horseshoe (after all, what horseshoe hasn't been in a field of uck?) and the Lewes Prick Spur (scientists found it too hard to contemplate this object without flinching).



Anonymous maxwell said...

What of Spotted Dick?

7:18 PM  
Blogger George said...

Maxwell, see a physician, or in your case, a vet.

10:29 PM  
Blogger Rickey Henderson said...

Did Heinrich Schliemann pen this blog post?

5:09 AM  
Blogger George said...

Would I do something on the schly?

8:58 AM  
Blogger regina said...

Your puns and portmanteaux are just begging to be compiled into a dictionary.

10:01 AM  
Blogger George said...

Actually, I'm just hoping some kids cite some of these in papers for their teachers....

10:57 AM  
Blogger jqb said...

Seriously, it was evolutionary biologists who established it as a hoax, which demolishes those silly creationists who use Piltdown Man as some sort of evidence that evolution is itself some big hoax. As for why it was believed in for so long -- it was territorial; since it was discovered in Britain, Brits tended to defend it.

7:38 PM  

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