… what do we really know about our past? A 2012 article in Scientific American acknowledged, with good reason as we have seen, “The origin of our genus, Homo, is one of the biggest mysteries facing scholars of human evolution.” Intriguing finds lead to a barrage of conflicting narratives, partial and uncertain, much like ancient mythologies.
And the field has experienced fraud as well as dissension. Consider Piltdown man (“archaeology’s greatest hoax”). The pretended fossil (which “turned up” in 1912 and was not exposed as a composite until 1953) was a simple, easily detectible fraud that went undetected because it was so valued by British paleontologists that for over forty years they would neither consider it closely nor permit anyone else to do so. Over thirty suspects, including prominent scientists, have been suggested as the possible fraudster: …
Piltdown mainly demonstrates how deeply committed the generations of fossil hunters after Darwin have been to the story of the “ascent of man” he so effectively popularized.
And then there are the vendettas. More.
See also: Some thoughts on common ancestry
and The Science Fictions series at your fingertips (what we really know about human evolution)
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