Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Direct Dating of Dinosaur Fossils

Direct U-Pb dating of Cretaceous and Paleocene dinosaur bones, San Juan Basin, New Mexico. 2011. J. E. Fassett et al., Geology 39 :159-162

Abstract: Vertebrate fossils have been important for relative dating of terrestrial rocks for decades, but direct dating of these fossils has heretofore been unsuccessful. In this study we employ recent advances in laser ablation in situ U-Pb dating techniques to directly date two dinosaur fossils from the San Juan Basin of northwestern New Mexico and southwestern Colorado, United States.

A Cretaceous dinosaur bone collected from just below the Cretaceous-Paleogene interface yielded a U-Pb date of 73.6 ± 0.9 Ma, in excellent agreement with a previously determined 40Ar/39Ar date of 73.04 ± 0.25 Ma for an ash bed near this site.

The second dinosaur bone sample from Paleocene strata just above the Cretaceous-Paleogene interface yielded a Paleocene U-Pb date of 64.8 ± 0.9 Ma, consistent with palynologic, paleomagnetic, and fossil-mammal biochronologic data.
This first successful direct dating of fossil vertebrate bone provides a new methodology with the potential to directly obtain accurate dates for any vertebrate fossil.

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