Hominids, doubts and big headlines: The Orce Man controversy in the spanish press (1983-2007)

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© 2013, Editorial Universida de Granada. All rights reserved. In June 1983, several Spanish newspapers announced the discovery of a cranial fragment of the genus Homo in Orce, Granada, which seemed a scientific revolution at the time. One year later, the same fossil was attributed to a donkey, as the newspaper El País reported. A strident controversy began: the famous «Orce Man» became the «Orce Donkey», the discoverers were criticized for their precipitation and the scientific debate moved to the mass media. Through an exhaustive study of the case in the Spanish newspapers, this article first explores how this dispute unravelled and its relationship with the historical context of palaeontology and palaeoanthropology in Catalonia and Spain. Secondly, this paper seeks to understand why it was impossible to reach a consensus among the scientists dealing with «Orce Man». Finally, analysis of the role of the press in the dispute sheds light on how the media are involved in the generation and validation of scientific knowledge.
Original languageEnglish
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2013


  • Controversy
  • De Lumley
  • Gibert
  • Institut de Paleontologia de Sabadell
  • Orce man
  • Palaeoanthropology
  • Science and the press


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