New dating methods amongst the Top 10 Scientific discoveries of the Year





Time Magazine has named a study by Oxford researchers, using new dating techniques on a human skull to help find out where our most recent common ancestor came from, as one of the Top 10 Scientific Discoveries of the Year.

The skull was discovered more than 50 years ago near the town of Hofmeyr in the Eastern Cape Province of South Africa. It is thought to be 36,000 years old, according to a study published in the journal Science in January 2007. The finding by Oxford researchers in collaboration with Stony Brook University, New York, supports a growing body of genetic evidence which suggests that humans originated in sub-Saharan Africa and migrated into the Old World around this date.

The international team used a new application of dating methods developed by Dr Richard Bailey and his colleagues from the School of Geography and the Environment, the Research Laboratory for Archaeology and the Department of Earth Science. Traditional radiocarbon dating of the Hofmeyr skull was not possible because so much carbon had been leached from the bone while it lay buried in sediment. ...



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