Note on the fragment of the lower jaw from Piltdown

Nature July 12, 1917

  1. F. Dixon

Royal Dublin Society

[399] Prof. A. F. Dixon: Note on the fragment of the lower jaw from Piltdown, Sussex. Inasmuch as our knowledge of the facial portion of the skull of Piltdown man is derived from a study of the very remarkable fragment found of the lower jaw, it becomes of extreme interest to inquire if its ape-like peculiarities have not been over-emphasised in the various proposed reconstructions of the entire skull. The author believes that it is possible to reconstruct the lower jaw on more distinctly human lines than has. been proposed hitherto. From a comparison with the mandible of a Melanesian !slander and other specimens from lower existing races, it does not seem necessary to assume that in the Piltdown man there was (1) complete absence of chin (mental eminence); (2) a more parallel arrangement of the pre-molar teeth than in many recent races; (3) enormous development of the incisor teeth; or (4) a square-shaped front to the alveolar part of the jaw. Further, it is not necessary to assume so great a degree of prognathism as is shown in the various reconstructions of the skull that have been published. A reconstruction proposed by the author showed that it was possible that the alveolar part of the Piltdown jaw formed a curve similar to that found in many primitive existing races, and that the mental region may have been as much developed as in them or in the Neanderthal race. No comparison with recent man or ape can detract from the extreme interest of the lower-jaw fragment from Piltdown, but it is very doubtful if the remarkable features which it exhibits are sufficient to support the claim that Piltdown man belonged to a genus different from modern man, or that, he may not have represented an early race of Homo sapiens from which modern man has been derived.