Techniques dating hominids

But one significant problem clouded the excitement over the discovery: The team doesn’t know how old the fossils are.And without that age, it’s hard to know how fits into the story of human evolution, or how to interpret its apparent habit of deliberately burying its own kind.Yet even this seminal K-Ar dating study was plagued by the seemingly insurmountable problem of contamination. Advances in Archaeological and Museum Science, vol 2.The principal materials for dating East Africa hominid sites are volcanic ashes, yet many of these ashes are not deposited as primary air fall (Greek for ash). K-Ar dating has played a key role in unraveling the temporal patterns of hominid evolution as far back as the first significant discovery of East African australopithecines at Olduvai Gorge in 1959.It was in large part due to the desire to understand the age of the Olduvai hominid remains that pioneering attempts were made to date geologically young materials using the K-Ar method.One thing that is certain, however, is that the remains fit into a previously rather barren period in the fossil record of early hominids.Before their discovery by paleoanthropologist Lee Berger and his son in 2008, there were fossils of Homo erectus, the earliest known representative of our own genus Homo, which were dated to around 1.9 million years old.

It hinges upon the presence of carbon-14, a radioactive isotope of carbon that accumulates in the bodies of animals throughout our lives, and gradually decays after we die.

After a long, hot morning of mapping and surveying for fossils, they decided to head back to the vehicle.

Johanson suggested taking an alternate route back to the Land Rover, through a nearby gully.

Everyone from professional paleontologists to interested members of the public raised the same question: Why hadn’t the team dated the fossils yet?

The simple answer is: Because dating fossils is really difficult.

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Then there was Lucy, a fossil remain from the pre-Homo hominid Austraopithecus afarensis.

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