Piltdown Man redux

Is Erika, Gutsick Gibbon the new Sir Arthur Keith?   Piltdown Man was the hoax from the 1920s and ’30s.  Many esteemed paleoanthropologists got suckered in.  Keith was the Chairman of the London Anthropological Society for nearly two decades.

From the  Smithsonian:

Piltdown ManOn December 18, 1912, British paleontologist Arthur Smith Woodward introduced the world to a tantalizing fossil: England’s most ancient human ancestor, perhaps one of the world’s oldest hominids. Best known as Piltdown Man, the “discovery” turned out to be the biggest hoax in the history of paleoanthropology. It’s a scientific crime that researchers are still trying to solve.

Piltdown Man consists of five skull fragments, a lower jaw with two teeth and an isolated canine. The first fossil fragment was allegedly unearthed by a man digging in gravel beds in Piltdown in East Sussex, England. The man gave the skull fragment to Charles Dawson, an amateur archaeologist and fossil collector. In 1911, Dawson did his own digging in the gravel and found additional skull fragments, as well as stone tools and the bones of extinct animals such as hippos and mastodons, which suggested the human-like skull bones were of a great antiquity. In 1912, Dawson wrote to Smith Woodward about his finds.

The two of them—along with Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, a Jesuit priest and paleontologist—returned to the Piltdown gravels to continue excavating. They found additional skull fragments and the lower jaw. The following year Teilhard de Chardin discovered the lone canine tooth.

In 1953, with improved carbon dating methods, scientists took another look at Piltdown.  They shortly discovered that the cranium belonged to a man no older than 600 years old, whilst the mandible belonged to an Orangutan.  Both were stained deep brown to make them appear old.


the Telegraph reports. Chris Stringer, an anthropologist at the Natural History Museum in London and one of the scientists investigating Piltdown, speculates in a commentary in Nature that Dawson may have committed such hoaxes in an effort to achieve scientific glory.

The reason behind the forgery was never determined. Though, another theory was that a prime suspect had it in for London Anthropology Society director Sir Richard Keith.

Just a mistake she claims, but politically motivated?

Gutsick GibbonErika has made some major errors in past videos. But now, with her latest video she has reached new heights of all-time anthropology mistakes.

She has said on many occasions that her politics are “center left.”  Robert Sepehr is a conservative.

She does have a major following.  She recently reached a milestone of over 100,000 subscribers.

Her channel is entertaining.   She uses quick wit, and nicely timed video clips to roast her opponents.

She has made some major errors in past videos.

In past videos she has screw up dates on Homo naledi. She also has also miscalculated percentages of DNA. She flubbed a simple calculation of archaic DNA in Africans versus Melanesians.  In another video attacking her prime rival Robert Sepehr she said that Asians had 12% Denisovan DNA, which she implied was similar to the percentage of archaic DNA in Africans at 19%.  The actual highest percentage of Denisovan DNA has been found in the Ayta Magbukon of the Philippines at 7.8%.  However, the Ayta are not Asian, rather they are Melanesians.  Denisovan DNA found in Asians is typically 1%.

But it is with her current video released last week, where she has made two enormous blunders, that tower over all her other past mistakes. One of them involves the first member of Homo sapiens, discovered by Richard Leakey.

Erika stated that Homo habilis going by the Ledi Geraru specimen, discovered by William Kimbel’s team in the early 2000s was 3.8 million years old.  Indeed, it is 2.8 million years old.  Additionally, she stated that Omo 1, the first fully Homo sapien specimen was in her words, 150,000 to 200,000 years old.  It was redated in 2022 by Stringer and Katerina Harvati to 233,000 years.  This was all over the science news.  It seems odd that she would have missed that redating of Omo 1.

She did fess up to the error in a recent Tweet to this site.


Author Eric

FSU grad, US Navy Veteran. Houston, Texas

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