Unraveling Piltdown:: The Science Fraud of the Century and Its Solution

John Evangelist Walsh, Author Random House (NY) $25.95 (279p) ISBN 978-0-679-44444-2
The Piltdown hoax seriously retarded the progress of paleontology, misleading scientists who believed that the fossil skull found in a gravel pit in England in 1912-1913 was the remains of a prehominid up to a million years old. In 1952, the ""fossil"" was exposed as a clever fraud, assembled from the remains of a medieval Englishman and a Borneo orangutan. Charles Dawson, the fiercely ambitious solicitor who claimed to have unearthed the bones, has been investigators' leading suspect, and in a masterful, intriguing report that unfolds as an exciting mystery, Walsh (Poe the Detective) makes the case against Dawson even more solid, charging him with planting the bones and then targeting friends and acquaintances--among them Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and priest/paleontologist Teilhard de Chardin--in an attempt to gain scientific credibility for his alleged find. Walsh strengthens his case by documenting Dawson's prior history of plagiarism and fabrication of fraudulent objects. Photos. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 07/29/1996
Release date: 08/01/1996
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