Forgery of human fossil remains that impeded early 20th-century progress in the study of human evolution. The apparently fossilized skull found at Piltdown Common near Lewes, Eng., was first proposed as a new species of prehistoric man (“Piltdown man”) in 1912. Only in 1954 was the skull shown to consist of a human cranium skillfully joined to the jaw of an orangutan. The hoax may have been perpetrated by the skull's discoverer, Charles Dawson, though evidence discovered in the 1970s suggests a British Museum staff member, Martin A.C. Hinton.
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"The Balloon-Hoax" is the title now used for a newspaper article written by Edgar Allan Poe, first published in 1844. Originally presented as a true story, it detailed European Monck Mason's trip across the Atlantic Ocean in only three days in a hot air balloon. It was later revealed as a hoax and the story was retracted two days later.
The article went on to provide a detailed and highly plausible account of a lighter-than-air balloon trip by famous European balloonist Monck Mason across the Atlantic Ocean taking 75 hours, along with a diagram and specifications of the craft.
Poe may have been inspired, at least in part, by a prior journalistic hoax known as the "Great Moon Hoax," published in the same newspaper in 1835. One of the suspected writers of that hoax, Richard Adams Locke, was Poe's editor at the time "The Balloon-Hoax" was published.
The author of this retraction has not been determined and was rumored to be Poe himself.
"The Balloon-Hoax" is like one of Poe's "tales of ratiocination" (such as "The Murders in the Rue Morgue") in reverse: rather than taking things apart to solve a problem, Poe builds up fiction to make it seem true. The story is also an early form of science fiction, specifically responding to the emerging technology of hot air balloons.
The first human-carrying unpowered balloon to actually cross the Atlantic Ocean was Double Eagle II from August 11 to 17, 1978. The Pacific was crossed in three days by unmanned Japanese "fire balloons" in 1944, exactly 100 years after Poe's story.