Topic ID #7771 - posted 6/3/2010 2:05 PM

Neanderthals Walked Into Frozen Britain 40,000 Years Earlier Than First Thought, Evidence Shows

Jennifer Palmer

ScienceDaily (June 1, 2010) — A University of Southampton archaeologist and Oxford Archaeology have found evidence that Neanderthals were living in Britain at the start of the last ice age, 40,000 years earlier than previously thought.

Commissioned by Oxford Archaeology, the University of Southampton's Dr Francis Wenban-Smith discovered two ancient flint hand tools at the M25 / A2 road junction at Dartford in Kent, during an excavation funded by the Highways Agency. The flints are waste flakes from the manufacture of unknown tools, which would almost certainly have mostly been used for cutting up dead animals. Tests on sediment burying the flints show they date from around 100,000 years ago, proving Neanderthals were living in Britain at this time. The country was previously assumed to have been uninhabited during this period.

"I couldn't believe my eyes when I received the test results. We know that Neanderthals inhabited Northern France at this time, but this new evidence suggests that as soon as sea levels dropped, and a 'land bridge' appeared across the English Channel, they made the journey by foot to Kent," says Francis.

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