The Orce Man

Controversy, Media and Politics in Human Origins Research


In The Orce Man: Controversy, Media and Politics in Human Origins Research, Miquel Carandell presents a thrilling story of a controversy on an Spanish “First European” that involved scientists, politicians and newspapers. In the early 1980s, with Spanish democracy in its beginnings, the Orce bone was transformed from a famous human ancestor to an apparently ridiculous donkey remain. With a chronological narrative, this book is not centered on whether the bone was human or not, but on the circumstances that made a certain claim credible or not, from both the scientific community and the general public. Carandell’s analysis draws on the thin line that separates success from failure and the role of media and politics in the controversy.

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Miquel Carandell Baruzzi, Ph.D., is Assistant Professor at the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona and heritage curator at the Museu de Ciències Naturals de Granollers. He has published two books on Barcelona’s history of science and several papers on history of science topics.
List of Illustrations
A Rough Guide to the Orce Man

0. Introduction - The Orce Man

1. Discovery (1976-1982)
1.1. Setting the scientific and political scene
1.2. ‘Look what we’ve found!’ The Orce Man among politicians, experts and the public
1.3. The ‘Spanish Olduvai’ and the discoverers’ reward
1.4. A great post-Franco discovery and a small but troubling crest

2. Controversy (1984-1987)
2.1. A painful trip to Paris: From man to donkey
2.2. A country’s ‘obsession’: ‘Is the Orce Man our ancestor?’
2.3. Science in a ‘different dimension’

3. Conference (1987-1996)
3.1. Gibert's research team and the conference preparation
3.2. An international conference as a ‘tool’ to convince
3.3. A triple victory (science, media and politics)
3.4. Scientific conferences: much more than debates among colleagues

4. End (1996-2007)
4.1. An unexpected attack
4.2. Control of the remains means control of the research
4.3. The process of isolation
4.4. The hominids that came from the south: Gibert's popular science book
4.5. The end of a long controversy

5. A ‘First’ American to compare with: The Pedra Furada controversy

6. Coda: The ‘Orce Boy’

7. The Orce Man: controversy, failure, media and politics

Annex I: Anatomical features of the Orce Man
Annex II: News from 1983 to 1999
Annex III: The travelling bone

I. Interviews
II: Archives
III: Secondary Literature
IV: The Press

All interested in history of science, science and technology studies, history of palaeoanthropology, social history of 20th century Spain, media studies and scientists working in human origins research and palaeoanthropology.
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