I’m Sick (but Here’s Some Settled Science!)

Image result for nebraska man

Behold Nebraska Man in all his glory! Formal scientific name, Hesperopithecus haroldcookii.

Yes, I’m sick. Allergy attack, meaning two to three days of hell. I won’t make it to the store today, or even try to write a Newwithviews column. I feel horrible.

But at least I’m still here, if only just barely–which is more than can be said for Nebraska Man.

Harold Cook found a fossil tooth in 1917–just a few years after (heh-heh) Piltdown Man was discovered in England–held on to it for a while, then passed it on to Henry Fairfield Osborn, president of the American Museum of Natural History. In 1922 Osborn announced that the tooth had belonged to a manlike ape. Given Osborn’s lofty reputation in the scientific world, a star was born: Hesperopithecus, “Western ape,” on its way to becoming human.

Actually it was on its way to the junkyard. The tooth turned out to belong to a fossil pig. In fairness to Osborn, he consulted with several leading scientists before making the announcement, and they all concurred with it. And he did not like the illustration (shown above), deeming it a pure figment of the artist’s imagination.

Nebraska Man didn’t stay settled for long. In 1927 Osborn retracted his findings and that was all she wrote for Hesperopithecus: just five years in the limelight, and then out. He coulda been a contender–if only they hadn’t found the rest of the fossilized pig (all right, it was an extinct peccary–and I do know the difference).

Across the Atlantic, Piltdown Man–which was a deliberate hoax that fooled Britain’s whole scientific establishment–hung in there for 50 years. They really hated to give it up. Osborn at least threw in the towel without making a fuss.

We credit Osborn with an honest mistake. But I shudder to think how the story would have played out if it had happened today. Jail for persons guilty of Nebraska Man Denial? Neil DeGrasse Tyson writing off all the doubters as backward religious fanatics? Nebraska Man action figures?

I’m thankful it was a hundred years ago.

About leeduigon

I have lived in Metuchen, NJ, all my life. I have been married to my wife Patricia since 1977. I am a former newspaper editor and reporter. I was also the owner-operator of my own small business for several years. I wrote various novels and short stories published during 1980s and 1990s. I am a long-time student of judo and Japanese swordsmanship (kenjutsu). I also play chess, basketball, and military and sports simulations. View all posts by leeduigon

9 responses to “I’m Sick (but Here’s Some Settled Science!)

  • Erlene Talbott

    The enemy is still up to his same old tricks: “has God really said…?” Even some believers get confused at times over all this gibberish.
    Meantime, I am sorry you are not feeling well. I certainly am not myself either. I will pray specifically for you today, and continue to pray for Patty, too. Hang in there, with His help, we will make it.

    Liked by 1 person

    • leeduigon

      These allergy attacks race through me, and nothing gives me any relief except to go back to bed and try to sleep through it. I suppose I could go to the doctor, hang around his waiting room for an hour or two, and get a prescription that may or may not help. But as our dear friend Linda would have said, “Fanabla!” to that.

      Prayer works, and thank you for your prayers, Erlene. If the last half hour I’ve been able to breathe again.

      Like

  • A.R. Grimes

    I’m sorry that you’re not feeling well. 😦 Here’s something to lift your spirits: I finished Bell Mountain this weekend. I really liked it! I’m now reading the second book and enjoying it, as well. Hang in there…God willing, this too shall pass!

    Liked by 1 person

  • thewhiterabbit2016

    Springtime allergies? I have to fight off the Fall ones. Yesterday was the first day I have felt good in over six weeks. Hang in there, Lee, this too will pass. Evolution is the culmination of the Enlightenment thinking of Kant & Hegel as solidified by Darwin – a complete lie and fabrication. It is counter-intuitive – I don’t know how people believe in it. As a child I always knew God had created everything – how else could non-living matter become so many living organisms.

    Like

  • unknowable2

    The fact that anything exists is, in itself, a miracle. Life is much more so a miracle. They’ve yet to find a true transitional species.

    Like

  • Joshua M. Swanson

    I’ll be praying for your recovery, Mr. Duigon!

    Like

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