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Skull of a Barbary lion, Panthera leo leo , dated to The skull is on display in our Treasures Cadogan Gallery. This is the oldest skull of a Barbary lion found in the UK. The lion was part of the royal zoo in the Tower of London years ago. Workmen digging in the old moat around the Tower of London in were surprised to find two extraordinarily well-preserved lion skulls. Using carbon dating, Museum scientists determined that one of the lions lived between and Genetic testing on the skulls revealed that they were pure-bred Barbary lions, Panthera leo leo. For centuries, the Tower of London was home to a royal menagerie of exotic animals, from polar bears to elephants. Lions took pride of place at the Tower's entrance, fearsome gatekeepers serving as a symbol of the strength and nobility of the throne. But although they represented the majesty of the monarchy, it seems that these animals were probably malnourished and in poor physical health.
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Seventy years ago, American chemist Willard Libby devised an ingenious method for dating organic materials. His technique, known as carbon dating, revolutionized the field of archaeology. Now researchers could accurately calculate the age of any object made of organic materials by observing how much of a certain form of carbon remained, and then calculating backwards to determine when the plant or animal that the material came from had died. An isotope is a form of an element with a certain number of neutrons, which are the subatomic particles found in the nucleus of an atom that have no charge.
M artin Kamen had worked for three days and three nights without sleep. The US chemist was finishing off a project in which he and a colleague, Sam Ruben, had bombarded a piece of graphite with subatomic particles. The aim of their work was to create new forms of carbon, ones that might have practical uses. Exhausted, Kamen staggered out of his laboratory at Berkeley in California, having finished off the project in the early hours of 27 February