Bear bone reveals humans arrived in Ireland earlier than thought

Humans arrived in Ireland earlier than believed, new research shows. The conclusion comes from the analysis of a bear bone found in a cave in Ireland and was announced this past weekend. According to researchers, humans arrived in Ireland about 2,500 years earlier than previously thought, dating the earliest evidence back to 10,500 BC rather than 8,000 BC.

The discovery was made by researchers with the Institute of Technology Sligo, and is the result of radiocarbon dating done on a bear's knee bone. The bear's skeleton shows signs of having been butchered by humans, featuring cuts that would have been made using a sharp tool. The bone itself is not a new discovery, however.

The bone was discovered in 1903 among thousands of other bones in a County Clare cave located in the western part of Ireland. It went on to live at the National Museum of Ireland for decades, only recently becoming an item of interest to researchers. A request for funding to radiocarbon date the bone was submitted and eventually accepted.

Researchers with the University of Oxford were sent a sample of the bone to test the initial group's dating results — their tests confirmed the conclusion. As such, it is now known humans were present in Ireland about 12,500 years ago, putting them in the Paleolithic period and adding a new layer to the nation's history. With this discovery, it is possible other areas of interest could be adjusted and expanded, such as understandings about how some species from that time period evolved under human influence.