The Kents Bank cave wasn't just used by humans it was also used by animals. Some show evidence of cut marks showing they were eaten or chewed (by other animals) but some would have died naturally in the cave.
A previously unidentified lynx jaw bone (see left and image of lynx right) was highlighted by the researchers of the cave assemblage. This exciting find is on display in the Dock Museum's archaeology gallery: Stone Axe, Blood Axe, Conquest. Lynx became extinct in the UK about 1800 years ago, probably due to a changing environment and hunting.
The study also dated bones of elk (a large deer species no longer found in Britain) and horse, showing that they came from a ‘warm snap’ at the end of the last Ice Age, between 12 and 13 thousand years ago. We know that humans were in southern Cumbria at this time as their stone tools have been found, but as yet no human bones have been dated to this time. Clearly horse and elk would have been good prey for these human hunters, but there is no direct evidence on the Kents Bank bones to suggest that they were killed by people.
Dr Dave Wilkinson, an ecologist at LJMU, and one of the authors of this study, commented: "The horse bones are particularly interesting as there has been a lot of uncertainty surrounding the occurrence of horse in this period. Both horse and elk later became extinct in Britain, with people later reintroducing horse to this country.”
The elk bone also produced evidence of another animal, as the bones had been chewed by either a wolf or large dog.