Friday, January 06, 2006

Revised direct radiocarbon dating of the Vindija G1 Upper Paleolithic Neandertals. 2006. T. Higham et al. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, published on-line Jan. 5.

From the Washington University at St. Louis press release:

Two Neandertal fossils excavated from Vindija Cave in Croatia in 1998, believed to be the last surviving Neandertals, may be 3,000-4,000 years older than originally thought.

The resultant ages are between 32,000 and 33,000 years ago, and perhaps slightly older. In 1998, the fossils had been radiocarbon dated to 28,000-29,000 years ago.

Since that time, the increasing application of direct radiocarbon dating to late Neandertal and early modern human fossils in Europe has greatly altered perceptions of the chronological relationships between Neandertals and modern humans during the time that the latter spread westward across Europe.

In particular, it has shown that many of the purportedly early modern human fossils are much more recent, while confirming the early ages of important fossil samples in central and eastern Europe. This work has been combined recently with refinements in the sample purification techniques for the radiocarbon dating bone and teeth, to provide more accurate, and usually older, dates for important fossil specimens.