A Guide to Fossil Man 1918, British Museum: Piltdown & La Chapelle

In 1914, two years after the publication of the famous Piltdown fossil, the British Museum issued a Guide to the Fossil Remains of Man.  The long-form pamphlet was meant to educate museum goers and serve as a way to disseminate information to the public (as well as experts) about the Piltdown fossil.  The guide was so successful that it was reprinted in 1918 and for many was a go-to resource that consolidated research and publications about Piltdown into one place, as the guide had an extensive bibliography.

Although the paleo world had few fossils in 1914 (or even in 1918) with which to build a hominin family tree, the Piltdown specimen is carefully measured and evaluated against other famous fossils in the early twentieth century like the La Chapelle Neanderthal.

Using the social, scientific cachet of celebrity fossils like La Chapelle as a comparative specimen served to reinforce the legitimacy assigned to Piltdown at the publication of the Guide to the Fossil Remains of Man.