April 23, 2005

Earlier presence of man in Britain

News story on an announcement presented in From Earthly Bowels into Light: The History of Geological Speleology and Cave Finds conference.

Ancient jaw bone raises questions over early man
New research has revealed Britain's oldest fragment of modern human - a jaw bone unearthed in the Westcountry - is 6,000 years older than previously thought [...] Their findings indicate the piece actually dates back between 37,000 and 40,000 years. [...]

Barry Chandler, assistant curator at the museum, where the jaw bone is currently on display, said the new conclusions posed fresh questions. He said: "If the jaw is anatomically modern - from humans known as Cro-Magnons as Keith believed - then these people spread across Europe, reaching Britain far earlier than is currently thought.

"If, however, Keith was wrong and the jaw is from the human species known as the Neanderthals we will have the first direct evidence of Neanderthals on mainland Britain. We hope to resolve this problem by extracting ancient DNA from one of the teeth."

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