The limestone of the Kent’s Cavern area in Torquay, Devon was deposited at the bottom of a tropical sea, south of the equator some 385 million years ago.
Tectonic plate movement, deposited limestone in the area. Britain had been subject to ever-changing warm and cold periods, over the last few million years, which led to cave formation, carved by moving water’s through fissures and dissolving the limestone rock.
Each warm interglacial period left behind a stalagmite floor, formed by stalagmites shattering in the intense cold of a previous cold stage.
The process of successive stalagmite formation and shattering sealed evidence of human and animal occupation in a sequence of layers in the cave floor.
The oldest skeletal human remains were uncovered in a German gravel pit near Heidelberg. The jaw, whilst similar to Homo erectus also showed signs similar to our own. It was estimated to be some 500,000 years old these remains are similar to bones discovered in Boxgrove, Sussex. These early Europeans were resident in the area close to Kents Cavern and their tools were unearthed in the breccias sediment of Kents Cavern which had flowed into the cave.
The Neander Valley: Homo neanderthalensis are one of the most famous human species, with prominent eye ridges, large jaw teeth and dense bones. Many tools of the Neanderthal were found in Kents Cavern and they died out some 40,000 years ago.
With the upper Palaeolithic period, came the evolution of man’s next stage in development, as we have observed in Kents Cavern jawbone. According to carbon dating carried out in 2011, it has been proved beyond reasonable doubt that the jawbone was aged between 44,200 and 41,500 years old. Dental structure tests, determined that it is Homo Sapien, making it the earliest human fossil discovered in Britain.