2019-09-04 15:08:00来源:网络


  The tale of Piltdown Man, the most infamousforgery in the contentious detective story of theorigins of mankind, began in 1912. On December 18that year Charles Dawson, a well-known amateurBritish archaeologist, and Arthur Smith Woodward,of the British Museum of Natural History,announced the discovery of some amazing humanfossils. The remains comprised nine pieces of skull, a broken jaw with two teeth in place, a fewstone tools, and some animal bones, all of which had been discovered on a farm near PiltdownCommon in Sussex.

  When pieced together the skull looked distinctly human. Although Piltdown Man, as thehominid became known, had unusually thick bones, the brain case was large and rounded.There was no sign of prominent brow ridges or other apelike features. However, the shape ofthe jaw bone resembled that of an ape. The only human characteristic of this jaw was thewear on the two molars, which were ground down flat, as is frequently true of hominids who eattough or abrasive foods, such as seeds. In other words the creature had the jaw of an apeand the skull of Homo sapiens. The primitive stone tools found with these remains suggesteda remote age for Piltdown Man, perhaps the Early Pleistocene or even the Late Pliocene. (In1912 experts thought the Pliocene lasted from 1 million to 600 000 years ago. Scientists nowdate it to between 5 million and 1.7 million years ago.) This date was also supported by someanimal bones found with Piltdown Man. To most scientists of the time, Piltdown Man fulfilled aprediction made by the pioneering evolutionist Charles Darwin, who had believed that humansand the apes could be connected genetically through a still undiscovered creature. Mostsignificantly, it was half-human in precisely the feature that was then accepted as the mostimportant difference between humans and the apes - the brain. At this time there was littlefossil evidence to contradict the idea that the brain was among the first of the humanfeatures to evolve. As time went on, however, Homo erectus fossils were found in Java andChina, while in South Africa the australopithecines were being discovered. All these fossils hadhuman-like jaws and teeth and relatively small brains in contrast to Piltdown Man's largecranium and apelike jaw. The large brain simply did not fit with the rest of the fossil evidence.By 1948 scientists knew that bones buried in the earth gradually absorb fluorine. The older abone, the more fluorine it contains. When the Piltdown materials were tested for fluorine, theskull and jaw fragments turned out to be much younger than the Early Pleistocene animalbones with which the skull had been found.

  Scientists were now very suspicious. In 1953 all the Piltdown material was tested for itsauthenticity. Not only was the recent age of the jaw and skull confirmed, but the jaw provedto be that of a modern orangutan, with the teeth filed down in a quite obvious manner toimitate wear on human teeth. But the forger had not stopped there. A bone tool found withthe remains had been made in recent times with a steel knife, which leaves different marks thandoes a stone flake or axe. The tools, as well as the animal bones, had been taken from differentarchaeological sites.

  Once the forgery was exposed by modem scientific analysis the mystery was no longerwhere Piltdown Man came in human evolution but who was responsible for the hoax, and why?Although Dawson, the discoverer of most of the Piltdown material, is frequently singled out asthe person responsible for this practical joke, there is no definite proof and the question is farfrom settled.

  The Piltdown skull seemed distinctly human because it had (Select ALL answer choicesthat apply)

  A.a large brain

  B.thick bones

  C.brow ridges

  The scientists of the time made which of the following mistakes

  A.believed that fossil discoveries would reveal much about human origins

  B.had preconceived ideas about what features an early hominid should have

  C.followed the ideas of Darwin in the face of counterevidence

  D.incorrectly judged the size of the brain

  E.failed to examine other fossil evidence available at the time

  The animal bones found buried with the Piltdown Man were all of the following except

  A.shown to be genuinely Pleistocene

  B.more recent than first thought

  C.unconnected with the human remains

  D.deliberately planted at the site

  E.not originally from the Piltdown site

  It can be inferred that it took so long to expose the forgery because

  A.the forger was exceptionally clever making it difficult to detect the alterations

  B.reliable techniques for dating rocks did not exist until recently

  C.the bones were not subjected to close scrutiny until considerable contradictory evidenceaccumulated

  D.the scientists had no reason to doubt the credibility of the team who made the discovery

  E.similar fossils from other archeological sites had proved to be genuine


  A B B C




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