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It would have been inhabited by mammoths, rhinos, hippos, giant deer and bison, which were preyed upon by sabre-toothed cats, lions, wolves and hyenas.
As well as an abundant supply of game and edible plants, the river gravels were rich in flint deposits, which early humans would have found an invaluable resource.
In 2012, for the television documentary Britain's Secret Treasures, the handaxe was selected by a panel of experts from the British Museum and the Council for British Archaeology as the most important item on a list of fifty archaeological discoveries made by members of the public.
Since the axe's discovery, the palaeolithic history of Happisburgh has been the subject of the Ancient Human Occupation of Britain (AHOB) and Pathways to Ancient Britain (PAB) projects, directed by Nick Ashton and Chris Stringer, funded by grants from the Leverhulme Trust and Calleva Foundation.
Although the researchers were unable to preserve the footprints, they worked during periods of low tide, often in pouring rain, to record 3D images of all the footprints by using photogrammetry.Between 20, eighty palaeolithic flint tools, mostly cores, flakes and flake tools, were excavated from the foreshore in sediment dating back to up to 950,000 years ago.The tools are believed to have been made by Homo antecessor, the same species thought to have made the footprints, and are the earliest artefacts to have been found in northern Europe.On this basis, the range of possible dates for the deposition of the sediments that the footprints were found in stretches from 850,000 to 950,000 years ago, but further research is necessary to narrow the window.At the time the Happisburgh hominins lived, a land bridge existed between Britain and France before the formation of the English Channel about 450,000 years ago.