Henry Fairfield Osborn, the director of the American Museum
of Natural History, declared that he had found a fossil molar
tooth belonging to the Pliocene period in western Nebraska
near Snake Brook. This tooth allegedly bore common characteristics
of both man and ape. An extensive scientific debate began
surrounding this fossil, which came to be called "Nebraska
man," in which some interpreted this tooth as belonging to
Pithecanthropus erectus, while others claimed it
was closer to human beings. Nebraska man was also immediately
given a "scientific name," Hesperopithecus haroldcooki.
Many authorities gave Osborn their support. Based
on this single tooth, reconstructions of Nebraska man's head
and body were drawn. Moreover, Nebraska man was even pictured
along with his wife and children, as a whole family in a natural
All of these scenarios were developed from just
one tooth. Evolutionist circles placed such faith in this
"ghost man" that when a researcher named William Bryan opposed
these biased conclusions relying on a single tooth, he was
In 1927, other parts of the
skeleton were also found. According to these newly discovered
pieces, the tooth belonged neither to a man nor to an ape.
It was realized that it belonged to an extinct species of
wild American pig called Prosthennops. William Gregory
entitled the article published in Science in which
he announced the truth, "Hesperopithecus Apparently
Not an Ape Nor a Man."235 Then all the
drawings of Hesperopithecus haroldcooki and his "family"
were hurriedly removed from evolutionary literature.
Nebraska man, and Henry Fairfield Osborn, who named
235 William K. Gregory,
"Hesperopithecus Apparently Not An Ape Nor A Man," Science,
vol. 66, issue 1720, 16 December 1927, p. 579.