Paleolithic Skull Is a
England Similar in
Some Details to
Bones of Chimpanzee
FAR OLDER THAN
Bones Probably That of a
Direct Ancestor of Modern
Man, While Cavemen
Special Cable to
THE NEW YORK TIMES.
LONDON, Dec. 18, 1912.At a meeting of the Geological Society this evening the paleolithic human skull and mandible recently discovered on Piltdown Common, Sussex, formed the subject of papers by Charles Dawson, F.G.S., and Dr. Woodward, Keeper of the Geological Department of the British Museum, who were jointly responsible for the recovery and recasting of the skull, which was broken into fragments when it was unearthed by workmen.
Dr. Woodward said the skull proved to be very different from the skull of any class of man hitherto met with. It had the steep forehead of the modern man, with scarcely any brow ridges, and the only external appearance of antiquity was found in the occiput, which showed that in this early form the neck was shaped not like that of modern man but more like that of the ape. The brain capacity was only about two-thirds that of the ordinary modern man.
The mandible, Dr. Woodward added, differed remarkably from that of man. It agreed exactly with the mandible of a young chimpanzee. Still, it bore two molar teeth, which were human in shape. If these were removed it would be impossible to decide that the jaw was human at all. The skull differed so much from those of cavemen already found in Germany, Belgium, and France, that it was difficult at first sight to interpret it.
The new specimen, said Dr. Woodward, was proved by geological considerations to be very much older than the remains of these cavemen. It was interesting to note in this connection that the newly found skull was closely similar in shape to that of a very young chimpanzee, while the skull of the later cavemen had the brows of a full-grown chimpanzee. Therefore the changes which took place in the skull in successive races of early man were exactly similar to the changes which took place in the skull of the ape as it grew from youth to maturity.
Dr. Woodward said he was inclined, therefore, to the theory that the caveman was a degenerate offshoot of early man, and probably became extinct, while surviving modern man might have arisen directly from the primitive source of which the Piltdown skull provided the first discovered evidence.
Dr. Woodward, replying to a question as to the approximate date of the skull, told a reporter that it belonged to the Lower Pleistocene period, which could not be computed in terms of years. A dim conception of its antiquity could be gained from the fact that the gravel in which it was embedded must have been carried there by a stream which was now the Ouse, and which had since cut for itself a channel eighty feet deep and a mile distant from the spot. In the gravel, too, were relics of the elephant, mastodon, hippopotamus, and red deer, besides flint implements anterior to those used by the cave dwellers.