TWO teeth have allowed Oxford University researchers to shed new light on when the first modern humans arrived in Europe.

Using latest scanning methods, the researchers showed that two milk teeth and jawbone were not Neanderthal as previously thought, but belong to anatomically modern humans.

The dating showed the teeth to be between 43,000 and 45,000 years old – making them the earliest remains of modern humans in the whole of Europe.

Oxford researcher Dr Katerina Douka was part of an international research team re-examining infant teeth excavated from a prehistoric cave in Italy in 1964.

In a separate study published in Nature, a team of scientists led by Oxford’s Prof Thomas Higham and Prof Chris Stringer from the Natural History Museum in London obtained new dating evidence for a tiny piece of jawbone unearthed from Kent’s Cavern near Torquay.

The jawbone, which was also found to belong to modern people and not Neanderthals, is significantly older than previously thought – at between 41,000 and 44,000 years old.

Prof Higham said: “We believe this piece of jawbone is the earliest direct evidence we have of modern humans in north western Europe.

“It also means that early humans must have co-existed with Neanderthals in this part of the world, something which a number of researchers have doubted.”