Facts and proof can be sticky things for academics – especially when they prove you’re a liar. This article in the February 19th Guardian reports that German anthropologist and professor Reiner Protsch von Zieten – who in his 30 year career had claimed to have found the missing link between Neanderthals and modern humans – has been shown to have falsified dates, fabricated evidence and plagiarized other researchers.
His “finds” such as the supposedly 36,000-year-old “Hahnhöfersand Man”, “Binshof-Speyer Woman” and “Paderborn-Sande Man” were all misdated by tens of thousands of years (the latter, in fact, was determined to have died in the 1700s – A.D., that is).
“Anthropology is going to have to completely revise its picture of modern man between 40,000 and 10,000 years ago,” said Thomas Terberger, the archaeologist who discovered the hoax. “Prof Protsch’s work appeared to prove that anatomically modern humans and Neanderthals had co-existed, and perhaps even had children together. This now appears to be rubbish.”
Protsch’s earthshaking – and textbook rewriting – discoveries had lead to a prominent and rather lavish lifestyle, suggesting that if his ethics and motives had themselves been submitted for carbon dating they would have proven to be among the oldest known to man.
Be sure to check out Scrappleface for its funny take on the story.