Range of radiocarbon dating gets a boost

Personally, this was my reaction to the paper: don’t grind up any more human bone until the radiocarbon community is unified about sample processing techniques. The paper lists 15 direct dates on Neandertal specimens younger than 40,000 calendar years BP (some of them multiple samples from single skeletal remains).

It lists all 15 of these as doubtful because they do not employ the latest techniques.

University College Cork issued a press release in conjuction with the paper’s early edition release in PNAS.

Direct dating of a fossil of a Neanderthal infant suggests that Neanderthals probably died out earlier than previously thought.

Researchers have dated a Neanderthal fossil discovered in a significant cave site in Russia in the northern Caucasus, and found it to be 10,000 years older than previous research had suggested.

This new evidence throws into doubt the theory that Neanderthals and modern humans interacted for thousands of years.

Excavations by Golanova and colleagues have recovered two burials of young children from this site.

One of them (Mez 1) has been the subject of much research.

Here it is tomorrow, and there’s this story about Neandertals all being dead before modern humans showed up, which for Americans is now yesterday’s news.

I think I once told a journalist that this was the most underreported story in paleoanthropology.

In 2006, Higham and colleagues reported that dates obtained for the Vindija G1 Neandertals, at 29,000 BP, were too young by some 4000 years .

This was out of sync with the other dates from the surrounding level of the site.

Ten years ago, Milford Wolpoff and I suggested that the skeletal features by themselves weren’t very convincing, and a recent date (apparently out-of-sync with the surrounding archaeological layer) might signal an intrusive Upper Paleolithic burial , despite its Neandertal mt DNA sequence.

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