Episode

Discovery

BBC World Service

Science & Medicine

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Science & Medicine 39

Explorations in the world of science.

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Piltdown Man

December 17th, 2012

Episode 224 of 565 episodes

The most notorious fraud in the history of Science is the focus of this week’s Discovery. Exactly one hundred years ago, British scientists announced their discovery of fossilised skull and jaw bones of what appeared to be the earliest human – a species of humanity closer to our prehistoric ape ancestors than any found before it. In 1912 it was a sensational find. In 1953 it was revealed as a horrible hoax. Jonathan Amos talks to palaeontologists and archaeologists about the case of Piltdown Man and asks, could anything as scientifically scandalous happen today? He visits Chris Stringer, professor of human origins at London’s Natural History Museum. The museum is putting the original fraudulent specimens on display after almost sixty years of being hidden in disgrace. Archaeologists Miles Russell and Matthew Pope discuss the prime suspect in the case and ruminate on his motivations. Could the world of human origins research be fooled by a hoaxer today? Producer: Andrew Luck Baker

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