French thieves raid home of prehistoric Tautavel Man

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Thieves broke into the cave housing "Tautavel Man", one of France's oldest remains, stealing a model of the relic and breaking a 560,000-year-old bear skull, paleontologists said Thursday.

The thieves snuck into the cave in the south of France on Tuesday evening after a research team excavating the site had gone home for the night, head paleontologist Tony Chevalier said.

Researchers discovered the next day that a silicon replica of Tautavel Man's skull was missing, while the fossilised skull of a 560,000-year-old bear was cracked and a tooth missing.

Discovered in 1971, Tautavel Man is an estimated 450,000 years old -- at the time the earliest human remains to be found in Europe.

© 2010 AFP

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