Hey! Kevin here, from the YouTube Science channel, Vsauce2. For years the question of the MISSING LINK dominated anthropology. How did we transition from knuckle-scraping apes, to bipedal humans? Chances are you may have heard of Lucy — the Australopithecus Afarensis discovered in East Africa in 1974. But have you heard of her dubious predecessor — the PILTDOWN MAN? Ready?! Here we go. Set the scene. Victorian London. Powdered Wigs. Penny Farthings. Walk down the street and you’d hear conversations like this… VICTORIAN GUY#1: Pray tell, have you proffered a gander at Gwendomeer of late? VICTORIAN GUY#2: Oh yes… VICTORIAN GUY#1: Indubitably
VICTORIAN GUY#1: Quite. On December 18th, 1912 Newspapers around the globe reported a shocking discovery — The MISSING LINK between humans and apes had been found — discovered by scientific genius CHARLES DARWIN. Wait…that can’t be right..
Ohhhhh — DAW-SON. Amateur archaeologist Charles Dawson found the missing link just outside THE PILTDOWN GOLF CLUB in Sussex. A human skull, an ape-like jaw, the DAWN MAN was touted as confirmation of Darwin’s theory of Evolution. Except… it was a fake.
It took 30 years to realize that this skull had been doctored– the jawbone weathered to match the gravel. Primate teeth filed down to approximate wear patterns. The question became — who would go to such lengths to create this elaborate hoax? “And suspect number one became…” Sherlock Holmes …creator, SIR ARTHUR CONAN DOYLE. The famous mystery writer collected fossils in his freetime, played golf at Piltdown, and even boasted about how easy it would be to forge a fossil in one of his novels. He was eventually cleared of suspicion when it was confirmed that Charles Dawson — not Darwin — orchestrated the whole thing. Initially investigators ignored him altogether because he seemed too dimwitted to pull of a hoax of this magnitude — oops. I guess they were wrong on that one. It wasn’t until Lucy was discovered in 1974 that the scientific community was able to rid itself of the stink of the Piltdown man. Lucy was legit. The first omnivorous ancestor of man. She was discovered while paleoanthropologists were listening to Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds — hence the name Lucy. Pretty groovy, right? Lucy was a hugely significant scientific discovery. But the truth is Lucy isn’t the MISSING LINK. She’s not that elusive common ancestor. She isn’t the answer we’ve been searching for. But that’s… a good thing. That’s exciting. Because that’s science. Boldly walking towards the dark corners of our understanding. Taking it bit by bit. Step by step. It’s not about the destination — it’s about the ride. Because if you try and cut the corners on the scientific method — you end up w/ Piltdown Man. And that’s no good. Right, Victorian guys? VICTORIAN GUY#1: Indubitably
VICTORIAN GUY#2: Quite. Still curious about Lucy? Click here to check out some amazing online installations brought to you by the Brussels Museum of Natural Sciences, proud partners of Google Arts & Culture. And for more amazing videos like this, be sure to subscribe to the Google Arts & Culture Channel by clicking right here. Thanks.