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Sunday, 27 February 2011

"Hesperopithecus" Again

I have mentioned in passing (again) that I have the original information on the supposed New World Ape fossil "Hesperopithecus" and the story as it played out is still just not right. The initial notices were that there was one tooth found that was thought to belong to an ape about like a chimpanzee, together with some bones which appeared to have been broken and scratched by tool use, in a layer about ten million years old in the North American Great Plains (Nebraska to be specific).

After this initial announcement George Gaylord Simpson at the AMNH went back into the vault and pulled out another tooth found earlier and which was marked as possibly coming from an anthropoid ape. A monograph was published at the AMNH on the supposed "Hesperopithecus." After that point, the original finder went back to the site of the original find and extracted several more teeth, which proved to have come from an extinct pig. And then an apology came out from GG Simpson and the AMNH in which a retraction was made, and ALL of the teeth were dismissed as probably belonging to the same type of extinct pig. But in a parting shot Simpson said that in every major feature the original tooth was like an Anthropoid's tooth and not like a typical pig tooth.

I always thought that something did not add up in all of that. Only the last teeth to be discovered were proven to be pig teeth; the earlier ones were just dismissed at that point. Nebraska is one place where the fossil mammal bones can be found piled higgledy-piggledy all together, and I can name at least one Neanderthal site in Russia where the Neanderthal's cranium was found perilously close to a pig's jaw. So two different things COULD have been found that close together; the original tooth need not have come from the same jaw as the rest of the teeth. Furthermore, that was no direct reason why the even older tooth found in the vault should also be dismissed at that same time.

I wrote to the ANMH some time back and asked if it were possible to re-open the case and have these matters looked into. I never received any reply.

However, here, for the edification of the readers, is a reprint of the original notice comparing the "Hesperopithecus" tooth to the tooth of a chimpanzee.

Best Wishes, Dale D.

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