Byline: JULIE WHELDON
TORQUAY has always been known for its balmy climate, palm trees and elderly residents.
But the resort has a new claim to fame - a far older inhabitant who was walking the English Riviera some 40,000 years ago.
Scientists believe the area may be the site of the first direct evidence of Neanderthal Man in mainland Britain.
They are re-examining a piece of jawbone - originally thought to be human and about 31,000 years old - that sat in Torquay Museum for almost 80 years.
Experts have used carbon- dating to show that sediment found above and below it in Kent's Cavern, Torquay - where it was unearthed in 1927, may be between 37,000 and 40,000 years old.
The only other late Neanderthal fossils on the British Isles were found on the Channel Islands around 1910, although many examples of Neanderthal tools have been discovered dating back 60,000 years.
When the jawbone was found, it was declared to be a modern human by Sir Arthur Keith, the top anatomist of his day.
However glue used to piece the broken remains together in 1927 is thought to have skewed the results, making the bone appear younger than it was.
Dr Roger Jacobi and Professor Chris Stringer, of the Natural History Museum, say further research is planned on the jawbone fragment, which includes three teeth.
Scientists at the University of Hull are to use a [pounds sterling]200,000 scanner to take more than 1,000 digital shots of the bone.
Dr Jacobi said: 'The scan of the fragment will take six hours, but it will then be possible to create a three-dimensional computer model and even a plastic replica.
This will be used to ascertain whether the jawbone and teeth have been put together correctly, as they were found in fragments. …