Neanderthal Hoax Exposed

image A sensational archaeological hoax has been exposed in Germany. It's been revealed that Professor Reiner Protsch von Zieten, a professor at a University in Frankfurt, has been systematically lying about the ages of skulls he found, claiming that they were far older than they actually were. In one instance he said that a skull was 21,300-years-old, although it was only 1300-years-old. As the Guardian reports:

"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."

Apparently Prof. Protsch began his career as a forger when he returned from studying in America decades ago and discovered that he was unable to work a carbon-dating machine. So he just started making up the ages of things.


Posted on Sun Feb 20, 2005


Oh great, more fuel for the creationists. Thanks for nothing, von Zieten.
Posted by JoeSixpack  on  Sun Feb 20, 2005  at  11:25 PM
...hmm...he lied. Big Surprise. I'm not fueled...just intrigued.
Posted by Maegan  on  Mon Feb 21, 2005  at  07:17 AM
The guy also had secret familial ties to the Nazis, raising the possibility that he was a Christian cultist, perhaps even a closet-creationist. It's another one of those difficult truths we don't like to face: Nazis considered themselves Christians.
Posted by all-seeing eye dog  on  Mon Feb 21, 2005  at  09:16 AM
"Considered" and being are 2 different things.

I consider myself blonde...but I'm not really. 😉
Posted by Maegan  on  Mon Feb 21, 2005  at  11:19 AM
Couldn't agree with you more, Maegan... But it really bothers me that so many people are going around exaggerating differences between Christians and non-Christians these days (or making claims on behalf of all Christiandom or all secular-dom, or whatever)... Especially when the gaps between what different camps of Christians believe are often as significant, if not more so, than the gaps between what Christians and non-Christians believe (did you know, for instance, that there are so-called Christians who actually believe Jesus was Satan?). Unfortunately, people get to call themselves whatever they like and can get away with it as long as no one with more political or social muscle challenges them. The same way the Nazis called themselves the "National Socialist Workers Party," despite being virulently opposed to socialism in practice...
Posted by all-seeing eye dog  on  Mon Feb 21, 2005  at  01:35 PM
So how significant is this really? There's one quote saying, "We'll have to rewrite the textbooks," but knowing nothing about archaeology I can't tell - how important a figure in the field is this Professor, and were the results he faked considered definitive or were they already controversial?

Also, if he were a closet creationist, surely he'd have been faking results showing that humans are a *young* species, not an old one? If the point were to mislead the entire scientific establishment and then be found out, he'd have been willing to sacrifice an awful lot for the creationist cause. I doubt he's involved anyway, as I'm under the impression creationism mainly a hobby-horse of American branches of Christianity. seems to back me up on this (top Google hit for "germany creationism" without quotes).
Posted by Joe Mason  on  Mon Feb 21, 2005  at  02:24 PM
Joe, I think it's pretty significant. I took an anthropology class at my university about 1.5 years ago, and we clearly learned that "modern humans and Neanderthals had coexisted". We even learned about how there is evidence that the two different cultures came in contact with each other. We learned of a pretty well accepted, though new, theory of how modern humans and Neanderthals existed in the same time period, but the Neanderthals, which were not nearly as smart as the modern humans, couldn't compete with the competition for resources and died out. So essentially, this theory says that Neanderthals are not even ancestors of modern humans. The fact that all these theories probably came from this one man who is apparently a chronic liar means basically that a lot of what I learned in my anthropology class is bogus. If these theories made it into mainstream scientific thinking, then it is probably incredibly significant that they were all faked.
Posted by Razela  on  Mon Feb 21, 2005  at  03:28 PM
Oh, great. Next they'll say that the case for Homo Erectus won't stand up... "Lucy is The Guy who died once..." That's a Leakey arguement. While I was out, did Neander Thal?
Posted by Raoul  on  Mon Feb 21, 2005  at  03:46 PM
Did you hear about the blackbird who started his own glossy periodical? It's called the Crow Mag. What do you do if Moe Sapiens gets insecure? You Ho Moe Sapiens. It's the right thing to do.
Posted by Hairy Houdini  on  Mon Feb 21, 2005  at  03:51 PM
As I remember hearing/reading/seeing some time ago the present (now no-longer present) theory was that the two branches of hominids co-existed while the ice age was dying out but that the Neanderthals were too adapted to the conditions and modern humans were generalist enough to adapt to the new conditions as required. There could easily have been enough contact to allow for inter-breeding if possible and modern Europeans and their descendants in other parts of the world have some Neanderthal genes. When I was going to school all those many years ago the theory was that the two groups of hominids competed and the Neanderthals lost the "war" very quickly, so no chance for interbreeding.

I have two complaints about this discovery. First, it gives ammunition to those wanting to discredit science as a way of thought. And second, all the good (bad) jokes were taken before I read about it.
Posted by Christopher Cole  on  Mon Feb 21, 2005  at  04:52 PM
Another thought came to me as I was looking at the story agian. Thsi guy NEVER learned how to operate a carbon-dating machine? Was he so insecure that he couldn't ask for a quick course? Or maybe there is something missing here?
Posted by Christopher Cole  on  Mon Feb 21, 2005  at  04:55 PM
Dear Razula,

I'm not proclaiming to be all-knowing here or anything... but, my degree is in Biology (Ball State University 1995-2001) and anthropology was one thing I couldn't get enough of during my studies. To the point that if classes didn't fit the "required" role I would take them as electives. I am pretty sure that somewhere along the line you have become confused about what you were taught. Maybe not though, just guessing here. First we need to remember that MOST of what we're taught involves theories. Yes, some are more excepted than others which leads people to believe them lock, stock, and barrel, but in the end they're just theories. Some are more researched, testable, and make more sense (i.e. Evolution vs. DNA perfection) but never-the-less they are theories. In spite of all this information... in all my studies I was never taught that modern humans (homo sapiens) evolved from Neanderthals. I was taught that the theory was that modern human and neanderthals shared a common ancestor, which is vastly different than saying that one evolved from the other... so don't immediately start thinking that your anthropology class was a total waste. It wasn't if merely for the fact that it helped teach you how to think, analyze, and discuss as a means of coming by knowledge. 😊
Posted by Mark-N-Jen  on  Mon Feb 21, 2005  at  05:02 PM
all-seeing eye dog said ;

"Couldn't agree with you more, Maegan... But it really bothers me that so many people are going around exaggerating differences between Christians and non-Christians these days (or making claims on behalf of all Christiandom or all secular-dom, or whatever)..."

If you were referring to my first comment, I was speaking about creationists, not christians, as all christians are not creationists. If you weren't referring to me, well then never mind.

Razela said;

"Joe, I think it's pretty significant...If these theories made it into mainstream scientific thinking, then it is probably incredibly significant that they were all faked."

This is my fear. The fact that some scientists make mistakes or, as in this case, commit outright fraud, does not diminish the overwhelming evidence (both fossile and living) that clearly demonstrates the mechanism of natural selection. Unfortunately, creationists will (as they have always done) use this as the example to assert that there is no evidence at all.
Posted by JoeSixpack  on  Mon Feb 21, 2005  at  05:14 PM
Very good point Mark. First of all, there is a good chance I don't remember anything correctly since it was my one and only anthropology class and it wasn't that recently that I took it. Actually, I really enjoyed my anthropology class and considered changing my major for awhile until I decided that I would probably go crazy in labs.

I just find it very upsetting when "scientists" fake their work for their own purposes. Science, when not in its applied form, is very much for the sake of knowledge itself. For a scientist to actually fake his/her findings and manipulate knowledge for his/her own benefit is a very sneaky and downright cruel thing to do. I wonder if Professor Reiner Protsch von Zieten or whatever his real name is realized the extent of damage he would do to the body of knowledge in his field.
Posted by Razela  on  Mon Feb 21, 2005  at  05:21 PM
One of my pet peeves is when people say that humans evolved from apes. It always provokes me to pipe up with the 'No, they share a common ancestor' line.
Posted by The Curator  in  San Diego  on  Mon Feb 21, 2005  at  05:22 PM
Mark-N-Jen said,

" I was never taught that modern humans (homo sapiens) evolved from Neanderthals."

I don't think she ment to imply that. She said;

"(W)e clearly learned that "modern humans and Neanderthals had coexisted". We even learned about how there is evidence that the two different cultures came in contact with each other."

which is significant.

At first I thought you were serious about the 'DNA perfection'. This would have been a longer post. LOL
Posted by JoeSixpack  on  Mon Feb 21, 2005  at  05:24 PM
Dear JoeSixpack,

Please don't take my reply the wrong way as you're one of my favorites among the regulars here... I didn't mean to imply that I knew exactly what he/she meant by that post just that they shouldn't let one charlatan ruin their whole view of anthropology and the classes they took relating to that subject. And yes, like you I did indeed read and understand those parts of the post but... immediately following those parts you quoted was this part...

So essentially, this theory says that Neanderthals are not even ancestors of modern humans. The fact that all these theories probably came from this one man who is apparently a chronic liar means basically that a lot of what I learned in my anthropology class is bogus.

😊 Just trying to encourage thinking without letting some boob of a scientist ruin it for an impressionable mind 😊 Because as you know, like a sixpack, a mind is a terrible thing to waste! 😊
Posted by Mark-N-Jen  on  Mon Feb 21, 2005  at  05:40 PM
Also Joe,

When mentioning the Evolution vs. DNA perfection what I was trying to do was show what a "good" theory would be versus what a "stupid" theory would be... highly recognizable to most... however, in essence they are of the same breed... theories. Perhaps I could have stated my point better but then public speaking was never my favorite... C's get degrees! 😊
Posted by Mark-N-Jen  on  Mon Feb 21, 2005  at  05:45 PM
Mark-N-Jen said Razela said 😉

"So essentially, this theory says that Neanderthals are not even ancestors of modern humans. The fact that all these theories probably came from this one man who is apparently a chronic liar means basically that a lot of what I learned in my anthropology class is bogus."

Doh! I guess I didn't read as closely as I should've. Sorry. Now, back to that sixer...
Posted by JoeSixpack  on  Mon Feb 21, 2005  at  05:49 PM
Mark-N-Jen said;

"When mentioning the Evolution vs. DNA perfection what I was trying to do was show what a "good" theory would be versus what a "stupid" theory..."

LOL, when I first read it i was stuned, but when I saw who it was that wrote it I realized what you meant. Your point was well made.
Posted by JoeSixpack  on  Mon Feb 21, 2005  at  06:36 PM
Mark --> It's nice to see you are so passionate about something that you get worried that I may possibly get turned away from pursuing the subject further =) hehe, I'll take that to heart, promise
Posted by Razela  on  Mon Feb 21, 2005  at  08:19 PM
...some of the posts sort of sound like a Jean Auel book. 😉

And in reply to an earlier post (geez, how did I miss those??)...I'm not trying to say who is and who is not a Christian. Only God & the individual can do that.

I like this "overwhelming evidence" idea. It's cute. People give you a lot of "facts" and it overwhelms you. It's okay. Take it one day at a time, you'll get through it.
Posted by Maegan  on  Tue Feb 22, 2005  at  05:06 AM
It seems that the ol professor's ideas never got into de mainstream -- there was a controversy about human/neanderthal interbreeding, for instance, with contradictory data from here and there, genetics and fossil dating disagreeing. Perhaps the fake datings will explain why the data was contradictory.

Here, an article from "Nature" (in 2004):

Anthropologist turns heads with mystery dates

Munich - A German anthropologist is facing accusations of misconduct from the University of Frankfurt, after concerns came to light about his research and apparent attempts to sell university property.

According to the German news magazine Der Spiegel, Reiner Protsch von Zieten carbon-dated several human skulls from Germany and found them to be up to 30,000 years old. Other labs date the bones at just 7,000
Posted by Carlos  on  Tue Feb 22, 2005  at  12:10 PM
Aha! So maybe he was a secret Nazi... See, the Nazis had a fairly elaborate (if highly specious) system of alternative beliefs surrounding human evolution (you know, the whole master race thing). My BS theory for the day: Von Zieten's findings were falsified to lend support to the Nazi's unique pseudo-scientific evolutionary theories.
Posted by all-seeing eye dog  on  Tue Feb 22, 2005  at  12:58 PM

Is it my imagination, or is the entire EducationGuardian website <> a thoroughgoing hoax? I'm reading some of the stuff there and trying very hard to keep from busting a gut.
Posted by Gerry  on  Sat Mar 26, 2005  at  03:13 PM
Me again. I decided to do a search on this subject....

Skeptic's Dictionary--

Archaeo News--

I'd like to call everyone's attention to several points that are apparent about this issue. First, it was scientists themselves who turned up this fraud. Second, it is scientists themselves who are publicizing this fraud. Third, the evils that this man is guilty of do not negate literally decades of anthropological and archaeological work by other (real) scientists.

The history of science is, sadly, replete with similar examples of shoddy research, poor methodology, and, as in Protch's case, outright fraud. But guess what? Science is still the best tool we have for testing claims. Science is self-correcting. And science is still here. Before anyone falls into the trap of crowing about the great victory of the forces of 'truth,' discovering that certain data--and the resulting conclusions--were faked doesn't make cretinist mythology true. It simply means that real scientists will have to keep checking researchers' claims. Generally they do. Sometimes however, bogus claims get by. That's what happened here.

Science has survived these types of assaults on it's veracity before. It will survive this one. And researchers will learn to be a little more careful in the future.
Posted by Gerry  on  Sat Mar 26, 2005  at  04:26 PM
"...archaeological work by other (real) scientists." - Gerry

He is a real scientist though, he just happens to be a lying scumbag scientist.

I agree, though. It would be like saying because one person makes a false statement on the internet that ALL statements on the internat are false, or saying that one man's claim to the discovery of a new element, when proven false, proves that no elements have been discovered.

Faulty reasoning fits right in with the creation theory. Sometimes, though, it also fits right in with the evolution theory. The big thing to remember, though is that both of these things have the word THEORY in them.

Neither one has been conclusively proven beyond a shadow of a doubt, and that is why the word theory is still attached. Only one can have the word theory stricken from it, if either one ever can.

I know where my money lies.
Posted by Rod  on  Sat Mar 26, 2005  at  04:48 PM
<The big thing to remember, though is that both of these things have the word THEORY in them.--Rod>

There's a problem with that observation. In common, everyday English, the word "theory" means a guess. To a scientist, however, a theory is a systematic and orderly explanation of observed data, usually verified by observation. In that respect, the theories of evolution (and there are many) fit the definition. "Scientific" cretinism, however, does not. A misconception that many people have is that Darwin "invented" evolution. He did nothing of the sort. He simply offered AN explanation of something that many scientists had recognized for hundreds of years. Cretinism, on the other hand, explains nothing. It's a reaction to a world view that cretinists--almost exclusively fundagelical christians--find anathema. If the universe, the Solar System, Earth, life, even mankind, evolved, there could have been no place for special creation. With no special creation, there could have been no representative sinner (Adam), hence no representative savior (Christ). In addition, if mankind is imperfect and "sinful," there could be only one possible explanation for that flawed nature--God made us that way. Can't allow that now, can we? It's simply easier for cretinists to force the data to fit the "theory" rather than force the theory to fit the data.

The difference between real science and cretinist science is in the explanations that each offers up for the observed data. A scientist might say for example,
Posted by Gerry  on  Sun Mar 27, 2005  at  10:06 PM

A congenital condition caused by a deficiency of thyroid hormone during prenatal development and characterized in childhood by dwarfed stature, mental retardation, dystrophy of the bones, and a low basal metabolism.

I think you meant Creationism. You know, creation-ism? I'm curious as to how you got that spelling mixed up.
Did Word auto-correct it?
Posted by Citizen Premier  on  Sun Mar 27, 2005  at  11:08 PM
"I think you meant Creationism. You know, creation-ism? I'm curious as to how you got that spelling mixed up."--Citizen Premier.

It was intentional. In the case of "Cretinists," the part of the definition referring to mental retardation seems to apply. 😊
Posted by Gerry  on  Mon Mar 28, 2005  at  12:48 AM
The May/June 2005 issue of Archaeology has a column on this. I am going to quote two paragraphs because I think they are interesting.

Chris Stringer, head of the Human Origins Department at London's Natural History Museum, was misquoted in one British paper as saying Hahnhofersand was significant in establishing the Neanderthal presence in northern Europ, and that without it scientists would have to "rewrite prehistory." Hahnhofersand was never even considered Neanderthal Stringer tells ARCHAEOLOGY. The redating of the remains has a "negligible" impact on scholorship, he adds.

The situation left many anthropologists scratching their heads. Binshof-Speyer Woman? Who was that? Despite media reports to the contrary, the fossils were actually of little significance on the paleoanthropological playing field. Hahnofersand made a bit of a splash in the 1980s when some scholars identified in it both Neanderthal and modern human characteristics, but it was always considered conterversial. "The three related specimens were not as pivital as some reports imply," agrees Martin Street, who sees a bigger issues at hand. "Clearly, it would be ideal if the age of a whole range of other alleged Pleistocene hominid fossils could be confirmed by absolute methods (such as carbon-14 dating), but it remains to be seen whether this lesson will be learned by the anthropological community."

Maybe journalists need to be trained better so that they actually know what they are talking about when they report on science?
Posted by Christopher Cole  on  Fri Apr 29, 2005  at  02:05 PM
Actually Charbdis, its interesting you bring up the subject of proof, because I would like to ask a favour of you, to take a look at the bullshit and put up a forum to see if there are any people who have been conned by it, please put a forum up about it, I am really curious to see if anyone has any info on it etc.
Posted by Henkle  on  Wed Apr 05, 2006  at  07:49 PM
The Ice is Melting, Stop Drilling for Oil, We're Apes all on big Liberal Bullshit Hoax !
Posted by Rubberneck  on  Wed Nov 15, 2006  at  05:30 PM
"In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth."

When a "Missing Link" is "found", it's considered sensational news, to be splashed all over *every* major newspaper and lauded on *every* TV news broadcast. When the, alleged missing link is later determined to be something other than *that*, the information is buried in the second or third section, on the next to last page.

If one has any doubts that this is true, please read 1. the Holy Bible; 2. "Evolution of a Creationist" by Dr. Jobe Martin; 3. "Darwin's Black Box" by Michael J. Behe; 4. the Holy Bible.
Posted by Robert L. Beach  on  Sat Mar 31, 2007  at  10:36 PM
Ya, I would like to say that I remember quite clearly the information contained in my high school biology text book. And these proven hoaxes are being taught as fact still to this day(via my little sisters text book, she is 14 and in the 10th grade). Why? If there is, in fact, an "overwhelming amount of evidence in favor of" why is it that said evidence isn't taught. Instead my little sister is being taught that embryos, regardless of species, at early stages in there development are the same. Even though it was found out that Ernst Heakle, the originator of this idea, faked the provided evidence. In fact Haekle was disbarred from the university he served on in the mid 1800s for his forgery. I would love to know if anyone has any examples of rock hard evidence for evolution. I also would like to say that unless you can make a cell evolve from chemicals( a cell will die with out all of the bio machines that it contains being present) then evolutionary theory falls apart. Thanks for your time God Bless!!!!
Posted by Andrew Hinson  on  Wed Feb 13, 2008  at  05:39 PM
:) 😊 😊 😊 😊 😊 😊 😊 😊 😊 😊

Hahahahahahahahaha... finally you evolutionists are starting to see the truth more clearly! It's just a matter of time before you see how false, unbelievable and stupid evolution is.

Evolution=> Evilution => it's an Evil illusion.
Posted by Cindy  on  Tue Apr 22, 2008  at  08:43 AM
That's right, it's so much more sensible to believe that some scary god in the sky created us out of love so he could torture us for his own plans. Yup.
Posted by Charybdis  on  Tue Apr 22, 2008  at  10:49 AM
If someone need to know from where the life start. He has to compare people fom indonisia, new calidonia and african people. Also, where there is more people in the world: in asia, europe or africa. the american indian people are also from asia. So stop searching in africa and go to asia where the life start 30000 years ago.
Posted by truth  on  Fri Mar 27, 2009  at  07:09 PM

While I respect that you have opinions of your own, I would ask that you tone down the arrogance and hate. If you whole-heartedly believe in Evolution, fantastic. I'm glad you've found something to put your faith in. But I don't appreciate being referred to as a 'cretin' simply because I interrupt data in a different way.

You are most certainly entitled to any opinion you desire. Just as I am. Just as the embarrassing elements of BOTH our world-views are. I, for one, am embarrassed by the people that will read the above article and use it as evidence to proclaim evolution bogus - for certain - and go and tell their friends.

I am a Christian and a Creationist, but I hardly see one small article speaking on a man lying to save his reputation as proof of any theory, of any world-view. People lie. I cannot count the number of times I have sat in church and heard a pastor misquote scripture, manipulate passages and deliberately take things out of context to prove his own 'theories' on theology. That doesn't make it all bogus. It means one individual doesn't get it, or has an ulterior motive. Shocking, I know, that Humans would manipulate something so many hold dear for their own gains.

'Science' is no different. It is open to interpretation. Point of view and perspective taint results as often as Human error. Your specific world-view, your specific ideas on why and how we are here will alter what you see. Where Evolutionist's see the work of random mutation and chance, a Creationist will see a guiding hand. But intrinsic to Science is an open-mind. I am NOT a scientist - despite my love for all things science - because I am NOT as open-minded as is needed. I do interpret things from a Judeo-Christian perspective. I admit this because there really is no point to hiding it, to arguing it.

My point is that men and women use the title 'Scientist' as a way of shutting others up; they declare themselves men and women of 'Science' and therefore unbiased. They claim they see only facts and data and extrapolate theories from them. This is not true. They are Evolutionists, Creationists or Other first, and Scientists last. We all interpret data. We all make 'educated guesses' based on what we see, hear, smell, taste and feel. Not all of our ideas are correct. What I am asking of you is to have an open mind and a little understanding. We do not all share the same beliefs, or 'theories', or whatever term you wish to place there. But we all do want something more, some explanation for how, and why, and what, and when. Rather than shut ourselves and our minds, rather than react with hate or contempt or any negative, non-constructive comments or thoughts, we should be striving to learn from one another. Many of the 'greats' of Science had a belief in a being, a 'god' that had a hand in our creation. It did not hamper their ability to dream or theorize. Hate, arrogance and contempt will.
Posted by Goggles  on  Sat Sep 19, 2009  at  01:02 PM
Obviously, the fraud and deception rampant in evoutionary, so-called "science" community extends beyond just one man! Do you remember "Nebraska Man"? An entire humanoid species was built around one fossilized tooth that later on was found to fit perfectly into the fossilized jawbone of a wild pig!
Add this to Piltdown Man and "Piltdown Chicken" and you'll see that evolutionists are constantly distorting and exaggerating findings and facts to desperately try to "prove" their Theory of Evolution, despite the many missing links which should abound in both living and fossil form if evolution were indeed more than just a theory!

If God is omnipotent enough to create the universe and all of its contents, surely he didn't need to take any long period of time to do so! His Word states that He created each creature after its own kind and commanded them to go forth and multiply - that's good enough for me!
Posted by Robert L. Beach  on  Sun Sep 20, 2009  at  07:06 AM
It's interesting that one of the founders of the piltdown man (arguably the greatest hoax of its kind) was a christian priest. He also found the peking man and supported the discovery of java man (both are now under scientific scrutiny).
Posted by kitabogo  on  Fri Jul 13, 2012  at  08:31 PM
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