Kent's Cavern Modern Human Jawbone

Contributed by Torquay Museum

Jawbone (maxilla) probably the earliest direct evidence of anotomically modern humans in Britain

Discovered in 1927, the jawbone wasn't recognised as truly ancient until it was radiocarbon dated in the 1980s.The jawbone was radiocarbon dated in the late 1980s resulting in the oldest directly dated human bone in Britain, at 31,000 years old. Recent research has shown that this date is likely to be too young due to modern glue used to stabilise the find. Dates obtained from fossil animals found above and below the jawbone indicate that a date of about 36,000 years old may be more accurate. We are currently awaiting the results of a new radiocarbon technique that will directly date the bone.
The jawbone is currently recorded as a modern human, an identification that goes back to 1927. If this identification can be proven then this fossil indicates that modern humans or Cro-Magnons reached Britain much earlier than previously thought.
If the identity of KC4 could be revealed it would also indicate how long humans and Neanderthals might have coexisted in this area, and perhaps when our first modern human ancestors reached this country.

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