Man Had Reason before He Spoke

New York Times December 20, 1912

Most Remarkable of the Discoveries Due to the Finding of the Piltdown Skull


Is a Real Missing Link


Anything Earlier, if Found, Will Prove to be Almost Entirely Ape, Says Dr. Woodward - Scientists Exited


By Marconi Transatlantic Wireless Telegraph to the New York Times

London, Dec. 19.–Extraordinary interest has been aroused among anthropologists by Dr. A. S. Woodward's paper on the Piltdown skull read at a meeting of the Geological Society yesterday. No other event in the annals of the society has created such a profound sensation among the members.

In some quarters it is even believed that the skull, from certain apelike characteristics, may prove the existence of the "missing link," or the most important of several missing links, in the chain of the evolution of man.

"That this skull, representing a hitherto unknown human species, is the missing link I, for one, have not the slightest doubt," said Dr. Woodward to an interviewer. "This discovery takes us back nearer to the source and origin of the first living creature than any other discovery ever made.

"Hitherto the nearest approach to a species from which we might have been said to descend that had been discovered was the cave-man, but the authorities constantly asserted that we did not spring directly from the cave-man. Where, then, was the missing link in the chain of our evolution?

"To me, at any rate, the answer lies in the Piltdown skull, for we came direct from a species almost entirely ape.

"Of course, there may be more missing links, but if we are to find them we shall have to discover human remains of greater antiquity than those brought to light at Piltdown. Such a discovery, to my mind, would bring us to almost pure ape.

"The most significant thing about the discovery does not so much lie in the fact that the brain is infinitely smaller than that of an ordinary human being, or that the jaw is the jaw of a chimpanzee, but in the fact, proved beyond doubt from the shape of the jaw, that the creature when alive did not possess the power of speech.

"But that it had some brain is certain. Therefore in the evolution of the human species the brain came first and speech was the growth of a later age."

Dr. Woodward seems to be of the opinion that the possessor of the skull did not exceed 5 feet in height, and further that, owing to slight development of the brow ridges and the slenderness of the jaw, it may be the skull of a female