MANY of the younger generation may never have heard of “Piltdown Man”, but for 41 years the general public and several generations of school-children were told that this supposed “ape-man” — based on fossils found at Piltdown, Sussex, in 1912 — was proof of our descent from apes.
It wasn’t until 1953 that a closer examination of the bones revealed that a human skull and part of an orangutan jaw had been planted by a hoaxer, who had coloured the bones and filed the teeth to make them look old. 50 years after the hoax was revealed, BBC News commented: “Piltdown Man went from being one of the biggest discoveries of the 20th Century to being its greatest scientific embarrassment.”
Until recently, the identity of the forger has been something of a mystery, but researchers at Liverpool John Moores University now believe the evidence suggests that the hoaxer was archaeologist Charles Dawson. Dawson, who died in 1916, first announced the “discovery” to the Geological Society in London. Evolutionists have claimed that finally discovering the truth about Piltdown demonstrates that science is self-correcting, but the fact that even scientists were fooled for 41 years suggests they wanted to believe it was a genuine “missing link.”
The Piltdown affair was not the only time that a “missing link” claim has proved to be wrong. We regularly hear claims that some new fossil find could be the “missing link”, but every time these claims are proved to be mistaken.
In 1917 a single tooth found in Nebraska, USA, was said to have the characteristics of both apes and humans. This was named “Nebraska Man.” Later, the tooth was found to have belonged to a wild pig!
Ramapithecus was based on jaws and teeth found in India in 1932, and claimed to be from one of our ape-like ancestors, but more complete fossil remains found in the 1970s proved it was simply an ape.
In May 2009 the media was buzzing with news of the discovery of a primate fossil named Ida. David Attenborough claimed “The missing link is no longer missing.” Creationists insisted it was just a fossil lemur — and they were right, as the media reported in October the same year.
Perhaps the most famous “missing link” was Neanderthal Man. Once depicted as a brutish creature, all scientists now agree it was fully human, and even interbred with modern-type humans.
No doubt we shall hear more “missing link” claims in the future, as evolutionists continue their fruitless search for fossil evidence of our supposed descent from ape-like ancestors. We believe their search will be in vain, and the “missing link” will continue to be missing — because it never existed!
We were created in the image of God, not the image of an ape! That image has been marred by sin, but Jesus, who is “the image of the invisible God” (Colossians 1: 15) came to restore that image, so that we, through faith, can once again “bear the image of the heavenly man.” (1 Corinthians 15: 49).