Lansing Man:
Once a "hoax" always a hoax, even after the paradigm shifts

Karl King
Sept 2004

An article in the current issue of Ancient American (Vol 9, number 57 pp 22-26. June 2004) is reprinted from papers published in 1901 and 1903 by Warren Upham and George Frederick Wright respectively. It deals with Lansing Man, discovered near Lansing, Kansas. After discussing the evidence and contemporary thinking on when the last Ice Age ended, Wright concluded, "This gives a consistent explanation of all the facts, and enables me with reasonable confidence to affirm that the Lansing skeleton was buried before the close of the Iowan epoch of the Glacial period, which, on Mr. Upham's calculation, must be as much as 12,000 years ago."

I searched the internet for more information on Lansing Man and came up with a fascinating article:

The Significance of the Discovery at Piltdown
Arthur Keith, M.D., LL.D., F.R.C.S.
Bedrock: A Quarterly Journal of Scientific Thought

"Any one enquiring into the ancestry of modern man will find the discovery of the Ipswich man in 1911 and the Piltdown man in 1912 very instructive. Both were found beneath shallow deposits—within easy reach of the gravedigger's spade. The skeleton of the Ipswich man lay on a Pleistocene deposit—the mid-Glacial sands, and under an unbroken layer of weathered chalky boulder clay, also a Pleistocene deposit — only 4 feet in thickness. The remains of the Piltdown skull came from an iron-cemented stratum of gravel, only about 6 inches thick, lying beneath a layer of gravel rather less than 4 feet in depth. At Ipswich, as at Piltdown, the remains lay scarcely 5 feet beneath the surface. [489] Why is it, then, that the Ipswich skeleton has been rejected by the vast majority of geologists while the Piltdown remains have been universally accepted as ancient and authentic? The answer is not far to seek. Except as regards his shin bone or tibia, the Ipswich man was like modern man; in every feature of his skull, jaw, and teeth Piltdown man differed from modern man. The peculiar characters of the Piltdown man gives him a free pass to our confidence, but why do we reject the man from Ipswich? Can he not be ancient, even if he is not marked by peculiar characters? My friend, Dr. Ales Hrdlicka, of the Bureau of American Ethnology, has expressed very well the attitude of most geologists and anthropologists to such discoveries as that at Ipswich. Six years ago he published a most valuable account of the various discoveries of ancient man which had been made in North America. He had made a personal examination of each one of them, and in not a single case was he convinced of their authenticity—chiefly on the score that the human remains thus discovered differed in no material circumstance from those of modern man. I shall cite an instance. In 1902 an adult skeleton was discovered at a depth of 23 feet in a Glacial deposit at Lansing, Kansas. Dr. Frederick Wright, who has given a lifetime to the study of Glacial deposits in North America, regards the Lansing deposit as formed before the last cycle of glaciation and gives its probable antiquity as 12,000 years. If the European cycles of glaciation were contemporaneous with those of North America, then the antiquity, if I may infer from the estimates given by our own geologists, is three or four times greater than that given by Dr. Wright. No one has ever called in question, no one can call in question, that the Lansing skeleton is as old as the deposit under which it lay. Dr. Hrdlicka, however, rejects it on the ground that 'this man was physically identical with the Indian of the present time,' and to accept the skeleton as authentic would involve 'the far more difficult conclusion that his physical characteristics during all the thousands of years assumed to have passed have undergone absolutely no important modification.' We have here the expression of a belief widely accepted by modem biologists who regard the law of change as so dominant that it is almost impossible for any animal species to come through a whole geological period and remain unchanged. Dr. Smith Woodward assumes the same attitude towards the Galley Hill remains as Dr. Hrdlicka takes towards the Lansing skeleton. The hard case of modern man is thus apparent: he is, in a geological sense, sentenced before he is tried." [Emphasis added]

As everyone knows, Piltdown Man was a hoax. Yet among seven discoveries of ancient human remains discussed, Hrdlicka and "most geologists and anthropologists" managed to choose Piltdown Man as the only "valid" find.

So what happened to Lansing Man? Here's another take:

"LANSING MAN, the term applied by American ethnologists to certain human remains discovered in 1902 during the digging of a cellar near Lansing, Kansas, and by some authorities believed to represent a prehistoric type of man. They include a skull and several large adult bones and a childs jaw. They were found beneath 20 ft. of undisturbed silt, in a position indicating intentional burial. The skull is preserved in the U. S. National Museum at Washington. It is similar in shape to those of historic Indians of the region. Its ethnological value as indicating the existence of man on the Missouri in the glacial period is very doubtful, it being impossible accurately to determine the age of the deposits."

Note that the original paper states, "The skeleton was embedded in the upper foot of a stony and earthy debris that appears to have fallen from a closely adjacent outcrop of Carboniferous limestone…", which does not imply an intentional burial—only one with a definite stratigraphic position. Furthermore, according to Upham, "Nearly all of the skeleton is represented by the bones found and preserved", rather than merely "a skull and several large adult bones and a childs jaw".

The current Ancient American article, Fossil Man of Kansas begins:

"Last February, during the excavation of a tunnel in the Missouri Valley loess, for use as a farm cellar, close to the house of Martin Concannon, near Lansing, Kansas, about ten miles northwest of Kansas City, his son discovered a human skeleton at the base of the original and before undisturbed, horizontally stratified loess, which glacialists refer to the Iowan stage of the Glacial Period."

And a different version:

"On March 23, 1902, Joseph and Michael Concannon unearthed a portion of a human skeleton while digging a tunnel on the Concannon farm near Lansing, Leavenworth county. The skeleton was found deep under a well-defined stratum of earth and rock, and was imbedded in what is called river loess."

This item also notes that "The skull of this man now reposes in the national museum at Washington, D. C., while the bulk of the remainder has been added to the museum of the University of Kansas, at Lawrence."

So how many people were involved in the original discovery? Joseph and Michael Concannon, or only the son of Martin Concannon? Was it in February or March? I continued searching, but found a warning:

"Sandia points, if any of them are real, appear no older than Clovis. The fluted Sandia points have Clovis flutes and look like Clovis except for the slight bifacial flaked shoulder, while the leaf like Sandia points appear to be like the Lerma points found with mammoth bones in Mexico. I visited Sandia Cave in 1977. I am of the distinct opinion that the stratigraphy in this small remote cave was questionable, like that of many caves and shelters where turbation prevails. Sandia points are largely dismissed today by many archaeologists as a possible hoax, like Lansing man in Kansas. Beware them!"
Avocational Archaeology, July 2000.
Paleo American comments about Kansas
Carl M. Wright

And that, it seems, is the final result. Lansing Man was rejected by "most geologists and anthropologists" because it was too modern in appearance. The same people happily accepted Piltdown Man, which confirmed their preconceptions of what a moderately ancient man should look like. Sadly, the exposure of the Piltdown Hoax did not automatically rescue Lansing Man and other "too modern" human specimens rejected by the incorrect assumptions of pro-Piltdown Darwinians. It is still considered by some to be a hoax because no one has bothered to revisit the evidence.

In trying to determine whether Lansing Man was discovered in 1901 or 1902, I sought to learn just when Upham published his paper in American Geologist. The journal ceased publication after the December 1905 issue, and is not easily found. UC Berkeley has the journal stored off-campus (NRLF). I hope to find the publication date without having to request the whole series.

However, I did learn that it was Warren Upham who demonstrated the former existence of the glacial Lake Agassiz. In addition, in 1916 Upham defended the historical authenticity of the famous Kensington Stone—a "hoax" that has since been validated by linguists. As with Lansing Man, the Kensington Stone was dismissed by contemporary "experts" because it conflicted with their prejudices, not because of anything inherently wrong with its discovery.

Post Script 12/10/2010:

I've been meaning to update this account for several years now to mention that I was contacted by a descendent of the Concannons. She was unaware of some details, or of the fact that Lansing Man was formerly regarded as a hoax. She emailed me 12/21/2004:

My great grandfather was Martin Concannon (1836-1915).  His sons, Joseph (1879-1970) and Michael (1867-1932) discovered the skeleton when digging a new fruit cellar.  I only know the dates from old books and such.  According to an article in the Topeka Capital newspaper on Sept. 21, 1902, the skeleton was discovered February 20, 1902.

The Smithsonian still has one of the bones.  About 1990 my mother and I visited the Director of the Museum of Natural History, Mr. Richard Smith, who was initially unable to find the bones and subsequently said he found them lying in a bookcase in an office — part of the jaw (left side, I believe) and skull — he said there should have been a thigh/leg bone as well.  But he did find most of them.  He further stated they no longer used the Lansing Man for research, but they did not wish to give them up  because they may wish to use them in the future.  In January 2001 I e-mailed the museum asking if they would turn the bones over to a new museum in Lansing, KS.  David Hunt, speaking for the Department of Anthropology at the Nat'l Museum of Natural History, said they have only the cranial vault and are using it for a "recent resurgence in re-analysis of early human remains" in the US and North America.  I have never seen the ones held by the University and have heard that they were lost, but Mr. Hunt said that the remains at the University of Kansas were used "to perform carbon dating (C14 dating) in 1968" and that the "resulting analyses found the remains to date between 2850-5100 BC, the average at about 3700 BC."

Frankly, I have never heard that it was a hoax.  Perhaps Mr. Smith was being polite when he said the Lansing Man was no longer considered one of the missing links, but rather an aboriginal inhabitant of the area where he was found.

I assume you are the author of the article.  I don't know your credentials for writing the article or where it was published, other than the web.  Would you please provide me with this information?  I'd like to keep it with a copy of the article for my genealogy files.  Thanks! "a descendant of Martin Concannon."

In response, I sent her a disk with scans of some articles I had found.

It is interesting to note that Vero Man, also sometimes rejected as a hoax, seems to date to around the same time as Lansing Man.