Nature re. Critics

Nature June 8, 1916

[309] The fossil remains discovered at Piltdown are being closely studied and debated by American anatomists. Dr. Smith Woodward recognised that anthropoid characters were very clearly marked in the mandible, which he ascribed to Eoanthropus. Prof. Waterston (Natuare, November 13, 1912, p. 319) directed attention to the close resemblance of the skiagram of the Piltdown mandible to that of a chimpanzee, and regarded it as incompatible with the skull. That also is the opinion which Mr. Gerrit Miller, jun., has formed (Smithsonian Misc. Coll., 1915, vol. lxv., No. 12) after a systematic comparison of casts of the Piltdown fossils with corresponding bones of men and anthropoid apes contained in the National Museum of the United States. Mr. Miller regards the mandible as that of a chimpanzee which had its habitat in England during the Pleistocene epoch, and makes it the type specimen of a new chimpanzee species which he names Pan vetus, a procedure which has been already questioned by Dr. Chalmers Mitchell (Nature, December 30, 1915, p. 480). Dr. Wm. King Gregory of the American Museum of Natural History (Amer. Mus. Journal, 1914, vol. xiv., p. 189) regards the canine tooth, not as a right lower, but as a left upper member of the dental series, an opinion accepted by Mr. Miller. At a recent meeting (January 24, 1916) of the Odontological Section of the Royal Society of Medicine, Mr. W. Courtney Lyne made an elaborate analysis of the canine tooth, and gave as his opinion [310] that the canine tooth was "incongruous in this [Piltdown] mandible." We are of opinion that future discovery will show that all three specimens are, as Dr. Smith Woodward inferred, parts of one individual, or at least of individuals of one species. A closer acquaintance with the anatomy of anthropoid apes will reveal many similar incongruities in their structure. If mankind has been evolved from an anthropoid stock the occurrence of a combination of human and anthropoid characteristics in early or dawn human forms, such as occur in Eoanthropus, is just what we ought to find.