There it was—exactly the type of clue I was looking for. I was sitting in the library of the Royal College of Surgeons in London, an elegant, high-ceilinged room lined to the rafters with impeccably organized old books, like a frozen set piece from the 19th century. I was there to examine the papers and photographs of George Busk, a man who was once president of the college. Busk spent much of his working life at the Royal College lecturing on biology, and his papers and other materials have resided in the archives since his death in 1886.

I had been flipping through Busk’s photographs of fossils, many of which were of fragmented cave bear bones, when I came upon an image of the Gibraltar Neanderthal skull. Its large, hollow eye sockets stared up at me. Without thinking, I raised the photo toward my face for closer examination. It was then that a voice from across the room brought me back to reality, reminding me that photos must be kept on the table. These precious images are not to be held or breathed upon. I carefully placed the picture back on the table and continued to stare at it in awe…

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