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After a three-year excavation of the Piltdown gravel pit in Sussex, England, Dawson had unearthed human-like skull fragments and a jaw with two teeth, along with a variety of animal fossils and primitive stone tools.
Dawson and Woodward announced that one of the skulls and the jaw belonged to a primitive hominid, or human ancestor, who lived some 500,000 to 1 million years ago.
On December 18, 1912, at a packed meeting of the U.
K.'s Geological Society, amateur archaeologist Charles Dawson and Arthur Smith Woodward of the British Museum announced findings that caused a sensation around the world.
MYTH #2 Radiocarbon dating has established the date of some organic materials (e.g., some peat deposits) to be well in excess of 50,000 years, thus rendering a recent creation (6 to 10 thousand years ago) impossible.
The scientific community celebrated Dawson's discovery as the long-awaited "missing link" between ape and man and the confirmation of Charles Darwin's theory of evolution.
As the decades passed and new information came to light, however, it became clear that the Piltdown Man was not what he seemed.
Comparison of ancient, historically dated artifacts (from Egypt, for example) with their radiocarbon dates has revealed that radiocarbon years and calendar years are not the same even for the last 5,000 calendar years.
Since no reliable historically dated artifacts exist which are older than 5,000 years, it has not been possible to determine the relationship of radiocarbon years to calendar years for objects which yield dates of tens of thousands of radiocarbon years.
Instead, Dawson will be remembered for something far less prestigious: as the likely perpetrator of one of the most sensational scientific frauds in history.