Monday, 17 December 2007

Piltdown Rakshasa

This looked too good to pass up.

National Geographic recently published news of an old Internet hoax to put to rest the notion that giants used to exist. A local Indian paper actually reported the "find", which allegedly came from north India and confirms the existence of giants from the Mahabharata epic (the paper later retracted the report).

Did somebody appeal to that country for help against oppression? Do they believe in apsaras1 as well?

The society is no stranger to scams. The biggest one in recent history was the discovery of a missing link between dinosaurs and birds. The find, called the Archaeoraptor, was eventually exposed as a fake (one version suggests that the fossil was actually assembled in haste and sold to black marketeers by the villager who found it, sullying the "Made in China" tag even further).

Although National Geographic issued a public apology over the Archaeoraptor flap (pun so very much intended), some publications were not so forgiving, cheekily dubbing the scandal, "The Case of the Piltdown Chicken". Creationists and Bible-thumpers also had a field day. Since then, other fossils of bird-like dinos have been found, but scientists are more careful with these finds.

I suspect however, that in India, hope springs eternal.


1 Celestial handmaidens in Hindu myth, similar to the Persian houris.

2 Rakshasas are considered demons, and not all of them are gigantic in size.

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