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The 1910's
The Piltdown Man Hoax



The Piltdown Man Hoax
Reading Level
     edHelper's suggested reading level:   grades 5 to 7
     Flesch-Kincaid grade level:   6.17

Vocabulary
     challenging words:    religious, bogus, dawsoni, doubters, fluorine, geologic, jawbone, mastermind, controversy, geologist, genuine, theory, humiliate, link, priest, public
     content words:    Charles Dawson, Piltdown Man, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Sherlock Holmes, Martin A. C.


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The Piltdown Man Hoax
By Jane Runyon
  

1     Scientists, religious leaders, and the general public have been arguing for years about how humans have originated. Many scientists believe that the ancestor of man was the ape. They have tried to find proof of their theory for quite a long time. In 1912, many of these scientists believed that the proof they needed had been found.
 
2     An expedition led by an amateur geologist named Charles Dawson found two bone fragments in Sussex, England. He found part of a skull and part of a jawbone with teeth intact in a gravel pit. The bones certainly looked old. And the shape of the bones led many scientists who study them to the conclusion that these were bones belonging to a creature not an ape, but not quite human. They named the bones the Piltdown Man. They believed that the Piltdown Man was the link that had been missing from the puzzle proving that man had descended from apes. These were the "missing link."
 
3     Many great scientists of the day joined forces in proclaiming these bone fragments as genuine relics from thousands of years in the past. After all, relics of a Neanderthal had been found in Germany in 1856. And a Cro-Magnon had been found in France in 1868. It made perfect sense to them that a far more advanced specimen should be found in England at this time.

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