Description of Parts of a Human Skeleton from Pleistocene (Paleolithic) Bed, Tilbury, Essex

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                                Testing these remains by application of the tongue the degree of adhesion indicated 
loss of the original gelatine, and the specific gravity was greater than that of recent 
human bone.
I consequently submitted to my Colleague, Dr. Walter Flight, F.R.S., who 
had kindly added the results of his experienced analytic skill to my comparisons 
of pleistocene fossils from Australia, 3/ the shaft of one of the tibiae of the palaeolithic 
skeleton with the corresponding part of the recent human bone, and I subjoin the 
following result:- “In examining the portion of the human skeleton from 
the ‘Tilbury Excavations ‘ I have employed the method which I used, in 1870,
when examining the jaw-bone of <u>Diprotodon australis <\u>, and a description of which 
will be found in the ‘Letter ‘ incorporated in your Paper on ‘Fossil Mammals ‘ in 
the ‘Philosophical Transactions ‘ of that year (Vol. c to f, p.p. 572-3).
The human bone is considerably altered in appearance and character: it is of a 
fine dark brown colour and is readily reduced to powder in an iron mortar.
When heated, water and oily matter are evolved, and it turns black or nearly 
so. Treated with soda-lime a large quantity of ammonia is given off. The 
density of the bone is 2.138, that of the recent tibia was found to be 1.985.
Treated for twenty-two hours in the cold with the requisite amount of hydrochloric 
acid, of specific gravity 1.04, it was found that:-
of these were dissolved 86.98
[…]ble organic matter -(Schewer’s Kestron’s osseine) 11.63
[…]able mineral matter, silica, &c. 1.39
100.00
[The] part dissolved consists of lime-phosphate, carbonate, &c. The insoluble 
[…] removed by heating, 11.63 per cent. comes next that found by Fremy in fossil 
bones from the Oreston caves. He found in the external part of a metatarsal 10.3 per 
[cent] and in the internal part 11.0 per cent. Fremy also found in Rhinoceros-ribs from 
[…], Gers, of silica and fluorides 1.4 per cent. I send you some of the 
[…]ed bone.” (Signed Walter Flight ).
                            
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Manuscript details

Author
Richard Owen
Reference
AP/62/6
Series
AP
Date
1883
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Description of Parts of a Human Skeleton from Pleistocene (Paleolithic) Bed, Tilbury, Essex, 1883. From The Royal Society, AP/62/6

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