Boxgrove Man

Boxgrove Man is a fossil thought to belong to Homo heidelbergensis, an extinct relative of modern humans (Homo sapiens), and dated to roughly half a million years old. The fossil was discovered in 1993 in Boxgrove, West Sussex, near the south coast of England, by archaeologist Mark Roberts and his team of the Institute of Archeology at University College London. Only two pieces of the tibia (shinbone) and two teeth were found, so little is known about the subject's history. It is even possible that this was a strongly-built woman. He or she was about 40 years old, 1.8 m (5 foot 11 inches) tall, and weighed roughly 14 stone (200 lb). It is thought to be the oldest human fossil ever discovered in Britain.

Tibia from Boxgrove Man

This particular fossil of an approximately 40-year-old dates back to the Middle Pleistocene era (circa. 500,000 BC) The tibia of Boxgrove Man is very sturdy indicating that it is a heavyset male around 5 feet 11 inches (180 cm) tall, weighing about 14 stone. The exceptional strength suggests a cold adapted body proportions paralleling those of the Neanderthals. It is clear that Boxgrove Man had the ability to hunt or at least scavenge with stone tools as the team discovered hundreds of Acheulean flint tools at the site. The teeth show scratches, indicating an eating technique in which the food was cut with a tool whilst gripped between the jaws.

Present at the site where Boxgrove Man was discovered were the remains of now extinct species of rhinoceros, bears and voles. It is most likely that Boxgrove Man hunted these animals for sustenance with the aid of the stone tools also discovered at this site. There is clear evidence on the animal remains that they were butchered but it cannot be proven that Boxgrove Man actually hunted these animals or scavenged them. There is also evidence on Boxgrove Man’s tibia that he or she was scavenged as well. Teeth marks suggest either cannibalism by others from H. heidelbergensis' own species, or scavenging by another animal.