Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Neanderthal Jawbone

Jaw bone hints at early Britons

A piece of jawbone that has lain in Torquay Museum, Devon, for nearly 80 years could be the oldest example of a modern human yet found in Europe.

The Kent's Cavern specimen was thought to be about 31,000 years old, but re-dating shows it is actually between 37,000 and 40,000 years old.

However, the early dates lead the team behind the research to wonder if the jawbone is actually from a Neanderthal.

A new examination of the fragment along with DNA analysis could sort this out.

If the jawbone is Neanderthal, it will be the first "classic" Neanderthal confirmed in mainland Britain. Early Neanderthal teeth dating to about 200,000 years ago have been found at Pontnewydd, Wales.

But if Kent's Cavern 4 is found to come from an early modern human, or Cro-Magnon, the implications would be even more astounding.

"People have been arguing that [modern humans] may have been in eastern Europe early but they certainly weren't in western Europe," Professor Stringer told the BBC News website.

"If Kent's Cavern does turn out to be a modern human, it would mean some of them at least had come across very early.

"That would mean that in Britain and in western Europe, there was at least 10,000 years of overlap between Neanderthals and modern humans."


Blogger Ambrose said...

Is it just me, or does the reconstruction look like Miguel Ferrer?

1:23 AM  

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