To many anthropologists in the 1920s, Asia seemed the most likely place for ‘the cradle of mankind’. Fame, prestige and money were intimately connected in the hunt for humankind’s earliest ancestors and, thus, a lot was at stake for those involved. Several countries were competing for access to China as ‘the palaeontological Garden of Eden’. The United States made their bid through a large-scale operation popularly known as ‘The Missing Link Expeditions’. The aim was to use all modern technologies available. Hopes were high and the leader of the expedition, Roy Chapman Andrews, estimated that they could do ten years’ work in one season. However, as the Americans had been assigned the wastes of Mongolia, that we now know are geologically far too old to contain any traces of early man, no ancient human remains were found, and as such the search for the Missing Link was a failure. And yet, it was successful in an unexpected way: members of the expedition were the first to find dinosaur eggs.
Endeavour, 2012, Vol 36, Issue 3, p. 97-105
Human evolution; American Museum of Natural History; The Missing Link; Central Asia; Peking Man; Roy Chapman Andrews; Public understanding of science; Anthropology; Field work