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We feel like bumbling Dr. Watson rather than rapier-witted Sherlock Holmes in trying to follow the latest case involving Holmes's author, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. It seems there are clues suggesting that - aha! - it was Conan Doyle who perpetrated the hoax of the Piltdown man early in the century. This was the supposed fossil evidence of a ''missing link'' between man and monkey. It took decades for the fossil to be exposed as fabricated.

Did Conan Doyle have a hand in it? Did he want to put down what he regarded as scientific materialists by showing they could be taken in so easily?

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Really, Holmes, you mean it wasn't Professor Moriarty after all?

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