Geological Society, December 2.

Nature December 17, 1914

[440] Dr. A. Smith Woodward, president, in the chair. – Prof. T. McKenny Hughes: The age and character of the Shippea Hill man. A description of the skeleton, and of the circumstances in which it was found, is given. The mode of formation of the deposit in which the remains occurred is discussed. The Pleistocene deposits of the Fenland were, it is considered, laid down in a depressed river-basin behind a breached seaward barrier. Gravels of the age of Elephas antiquus and Rhinoceros merckii, as well as gravels of the age of E. primigenius and R. tichorhinus, occur within the Fenland; but they are distinguishable from the gravels which are sometimes associated with the peat and clay, and pass under them. The fauna also of the peat- and clay-deposits is quite different. In an embayed part of the Fen, close behind the island known as Shippea Hill, the skeleton was found in the peat, a few inches above the clay which is considered to be the equivalent of this Littleport Cockle Bed. When first dug out the skull was in fragments, and the calotte, with its prominent brow-ridges, suggested to many a greater affinity to the Neanderthal type, and a greater antiquity than appeared probable when the rest of the cranium was added to it.

C. Dawson and Dr. A. Smith Woodward: A bone implement from Piltdown (Sussex). Excavations have been continued in the Piltdown gravel round the edge of the area previously explored. Rolled fragments of highly mineralised teeth of Rhinoceros and Mastodon were again found, but no human remains were met with. The most important discovery was a large bone implement now described. This specimen was found in dark vegetable soil beneath the hedge which bounds the gravel-pit, not far from the spoil-heap whence the right parietal bone of the Piltdown skull was obtained two years ago. On being washed away the soil left no stain on the bone, which was covered with firmly adherent yellow clay, closely similar to that of the flint-bearing layer at the bottom of the gravel. The bone itself is highly mineralised, and agrees exactly in appearance with some small fragments of bone discovered actually in place in the clay just mentioned. There can be no doubt that the implement was found by workmen digging gravel from the adjacent hole, and thrown away with other useless débris. It is a stout and nearly straight narrow flake of bone, 4l cm. long, and varying from 9 to 10 cm. in width, with the thicker end artificially pointed, the thinner end artificially rounded. It appears to be a longitudinal strip flaked from a limb-bone by a blow at the thicker end, in the same way as flint implements were flaked from their original cores. Direct comparison suggests that it was taken from a Proboscidean femur as large as that of Elephas meridionalis. In microscopic structure it agrees with Proboscidean bone. The ends of the implement are shaped by cutting, and bear no marks of grinding or rubbing. Most of the cut facettes are small, and many suggest that they were made by a primitive tool, presumably a flint. The rounded end seems to have been trimmed for comfortable handling. The thick pointed (or, rather, keeled) end shows signs of battering or scratching by use. Just above the pointed end one lateral edge of the bone is marked by a large smooth groove running across from the inner to the outer face of the bone. It seems to have been originally a perforation from which the outer wall has been accidentally broken away. Within it on the inner face is the beginning of a second similar perforation, as if an attempt had been made to repair the damage. The conclusion is that the implement is unique, and no explanation of its specific use is given.