The fragment of human jawbone that represents the earliest evidence for anatomically modern humans in North West Europe will be returned to Torquay Museum from The Natural History Museum in London.
The jawbone which rarely leaves the Museum has been on display as part of the exhibition Britain: One Million Years of the Human Story which brought together, for the first time, all of the most important archaeological finds that tell the story of human origins in Britain.
The exhibition was seen by more than 90,000 visitors to The Natural History Museum giving tremendous exposure to this hugely important scientific specimen and the rich variety of finds from the caves of South Devon. Read more.
The twee town of Torquay, on England’s Devon coast, has two major claims to fame: It was the birthplace and longtime home of mystery writer Agatha Christie, and it’s the home of Kents Cavern, one of the United Kingdom’s most important archaeological sites. Last year, researchers reported that an upper jaw found in the cave could be the oldest modern human fossil in Europe. But a new study questions that claim, arguing that the date of the jawbone may never be known with certainty. The controversy has an important bearing on debates about the spread of Homo sapiens out of Africa.
"One bad date can rewrite the entire prehistory of our species in Europe," says Paul Pettitt, an archaeologist at the University of Sheffield in the United Kingdom and co-author of the new study, which is in press at the European Journal of Archaeology. Read more.