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Old 12-06-17   #1805
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Ape-Men? 2


Since 1953, when Piltdown man was discovered to be a hoax, at least eleven people have been accused of perpetrating the hoax, yet Piltdown “man” was in textbooks for more than 40 years (d).

Before 1977, evidence for Ramapithecus was a mere handful of teeth and jaw fragments. We now know these fragments were pieced together incorrectly by Louis Leakey (e) and others into a form resembling part of the human jaw (f). Ramapithecus was just an ape (g).


Figure*13: Ramapithecus. Some textbooks still claim that Ramapithecus is man’s ancestor, an intermediate between man and some apelike ancestor. This mistaken belief resulted from piecing together, in 1932, fragments of upper teeth and bones into the two large pieces. This was done so the shape of the jaw resembled the parabolic arch of man. In 1977, a complete lower jaw of Ramapithecus was found. The true shape of the jaw was not parabolic, but rather U-shaped, distinctive of apes.

The only remains of Nebraska “man” turned out to be a pig’s tooth (h).




Figure*14: Nebraska Man. Artists’ drawings, even those based on speculation, powerfully influence the public. Nebraska man was mistakenly based on one tooth of an extinct pig.* Yet in 1922, The Illustrated London News published a picture showing our supposed ancestors. Of course, it is highly unlikely that any fossil evidence could support the image conveyed of a naked man carrying a club.

d . Speaking of Piltdown man, Lewin admits a common human problem even scientists have:

How is it that trained men, the greatest experts of their day, could look at a set of modern human bones—the cranial fragments—and “see” a clear simian signature in them; and “see” in an ape’s jaw the unmistakable signs of humanity? The answers, inevitably, have to do with the scientists’ expectations and their effects on the interpretation of data. Lewin, Bones of Contention, p.*61.

At least eleven people have been accused of being the perpetrator of the famous Piltdown hoax. These included Charles Dawson, Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, creator of Sherlock Holmes.

The hoaxer may have been Martin A. C. Hinton, who had a reputation as a practical joker and worked in the British Museum (Natural History) when Piltdown man was discovered. In the mid-1970s, an old trunk, marked with Hinton’s initials, was found in the museum’s attic. The trunk contained bones stained and carved in the same detailed way as the Piltdown bones. [For details, see Henry Gee, “Box of Bones ‘Clinches’ Identity of Piltdown Palaeontology Hoaxer,” Nature, Vol.*381, 23 May 1996, pp.*261–262.]

e. Allen L. Hammond, “Tales of an Elusive Ancestor,” Science 83, November 1983, pp. 37, 43.

f. Adrienne L. Zihlman and J. Lowenstein, “False Start of the Human Parade,” Natural History, Vol. 88, August–September 1979, pp. 86–91.

g. Hammond, p. 43.

“The dethroning of Ramapithecus—from putative [supposed] first human in 1961 to extinct relative of the orangutan in 1982—is one of the most fascinating, and bitter, sagas in the search for human origins.” Lewin, Bones of Contention, p. 86.

h . “A single small water-worn tooth, 10.5 mm by 11 mm in crown diameter, signalizes the arrival of a member of the family of anthropoid Primates in North America in Middle Pliocene time.” Henry Fairfield Osborn, “Hesperopithecus, the First Anthropoid Primate Found in America,” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, Vol.*8, 15 August 1922, p.*245.

[From “In the Beginning” by Walt Brown]
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