Dig for a missing molar

May 17, 1996

Digging resumed in earnest this week at the Boxgrove site where archaeologists last year uncovered Britain's oldest hominid fossils.

Dig directors from University College, London, hope to discover more remains of Boxgrove Man whose 500,000-year-old leg bone and incisor teeth shook the archeological world last year.

The first group of 20 student volunteer diggers arrived at the West Sussex site this week and excavations are to continue until September thanks to a Pounds 246,000 grant from English Heritage.

Mark Roberts, who co-directs the dig with Simon Parfitt from UCL's Institute of Archaeology, said: "We expect the discoveries to be every bit as exciting as those made last year."

The site has been extended, raising hopes of unearthing Boxgrove Man's lower jaw which, if it contains some molars - and they do normally - should give an insight into his diet, age and appearance.

It is clear, from last year's finds, that Boxgrove Man was robust, standing around six feet tall and weighing more than 13 stone.

Dr Roberts said that it was likely that he belonged to the same hominid species as Homo Heidelbergensis, unearthed near Heidelberg in Germany some years ago. They are the same age and thought to represent a species between the gracile African hominids and the Neanderthals who became physically adapted to an ice age climate.

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