The left and central sections of this skull were found by a local doctor in Swanscombe, Kent in 1935 and 1936. The right was discovered by archaeologists 20 years later
The woman whose skull this was could have been one of the first Neanderthals in Britain. You can still see impressions of folds and blood vessels from 400,000 years ago in it – the same size as those in human brains today.
© Trustees of the Natural History Museum, London
The back of the skull has some characteristic Neanderthal features including a small pit marking where the neck muscles attached to the skull.
The term Homo neanderthalensis was first used to describe a separate species of human by Professor William King at the British Association for the Advancement of Science meeting in Newcastle in 1863.
King was a self-educated man from Sunderland who became curator of the Newcastle Museum (which was based at the Lit & Phil Society in Newcastle and whose collection later filled the Hancock Museum) and then a Professor of Geology and Mineralogy at Queen’s College, Galway.
- You can see the skull at Newcastle’s Great North Museum: Hancock until April 17 2016.
What do you think? Leave a comment below.
More from Culture24's Object of the Week
A colossal Chinese Buddha statue which has just gone on display at the British Museum
Maude, the pride of Manchester and the first museum tigon for 100 years
"Slug on a thorn", the 120-year-old mollusc used to cure warts