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Thread: 13,000 year old Caribbean Skeletons

  1. #1 13,000 year old Caribbean Skeletons 
    Forum Freshman Amy Smith's Avatar
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    Is anyone familar with this article of National Geographic?
    I was wondering how accurate it is as it could be useful
    for some research I am doing.

    Dubbed Eva de Naharon, or Eve of Naharon, the female skeleton has been dated at 13,600 years old. If that age is accurate, the skeleton—along with three others found in underwater caves along the Caribbean coast of the Yucatán Peninsula—could provide new clues to how the Americas were first populated.

    http://news.nationalgeographic.com/n...skeletons.html

    Thanks for any help
    Amy


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  3. #2  
    Forum Isotope Bunbury's Avatar
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    I hadn't seen that article, but there is a lot of speculation about alternatives to the Beringia theory of population of the Americas and if the skeleton can be proved to be as old as they are hoping, this would lend serious credibility to some of the alternative ideas. My brother in law has a project in Florida, studying a sinkhole where he has high hopes of finding 12 to 13,000 year old human remains (the water is anoxic and organic matter can be preserved) but so far it seems the oldest finds have been dated to about 7,000 years ago. He is diving and hoping though.

    Edit: The article is over a year old and so far no carbon dating results have been announced so one might speculate that nothing exciting has been found.


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    Forum Professor Wild Cobra's Avatar
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    Well, I would suggest you cannot accurately carbon date something in the sea. The isotopic balance would be upset. Besides it also depends on these peoples diet. You can accurately carbon date a vegitarian, but if you carbon date a fish eating mammal, that is alive, like a penguin, you can get 20,000 years of more.

    When you have a food chain starting in the ocean, algae, planton, etc. growing with the CO2 dissolcved in the water, the isotopic mix is tainted from the start. Need to carbon date atmospheric respirating plants, or vegitarians who eat such plants for it to be accurate. Other samples data is no good.
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  5. #4  
    Forum Isotope Bunbury's Avatar
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    As the article says:

    According to archaeologist David Anderson of the University of Tennessee, however, minerals in seawater can sometimes alter the carbon 14 content of bones, resulting in inaccurate radiocarbon dating results.
    I understand this is why samples were sent for further testing. 13,000 years ago represents the upper limit of the range produced by the initial testing, which was, I think, 9,000 to 13,000.
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  6. #5  
    WYSIWYG Moderator marnixR's Avatar
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    sounds like a case of "my oldest fossil is older than your oldest fossil" - trying to bump up the age of your find to maximum you can possibly get it in order to make it newsworthy
    "Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away." (Philip K. Dick)
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  7. #6  
    Forum Professor Wild Cobra's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by marnixR
    sounds like a case of "my oldest fossil is older than your oldest fossil" - trying to bump up the age of your find to maximum you can possibly get it in order to make it newsworthy
    No kidding.

    When you have samples from unknown origins of the 14C tested, what you get is an oldest possible date. If they were primarily ocean fish eaters, they could test to be that old while still alive!
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