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A critique of the chronometric evidence for hominid fossils: I. Africa and the Near East 500-50ka

Millard, A.R.

A critique of the chronometric evidence for hominid fossils: I. Africa and the Near East 500-50ka Thumbnail



The chronometric dating evidence for all hominid fossils from Africa and the Near East that have previously been dated to 500–50 ka is critically assessed using the concept of chronometric hygiene, and these dates are revised using Bayesian statistical analyses where possible. Sixteen relevant hominid sites lacking chronometric evidence are briefly discussed. Chronometric evidence from 37 sites is assessed in detail. The dates for many hominid fossils are poorly constrained, with a number dated by comparisons of faunal assemblages—a method that does not have good chronological resolution for much of the last million years. For sites with stratigraphic sequences of dates, it is generally possible to refine the dating, but in some cases, the revised chronology is less precise than previous chronologies. Fossils over 200 ka in age tend to be poorly dated, but for the last 200 kyr, dating is better due to the availability of electron-spin-resonance and thermoluminescence dating. Consideration of the chronologies favored by the proponents of the out-of-Africa and multiregional hypotheses of human evolution shows their selectivity. The chronological assessment of the fossils here is compatible with either hypothesis. If evolutionary schemes that do not rely on the morphology of the hominid fossils to decide the sequence of fossils are to be built, then further dating is required, alongside full publication of existing dates.

Journal Article Type Article
Publication Date Jun 1, 2008
Deposit Date Feb 6, 2009
Publicly Available Date Apr 24, 2009
Journal Journal of Human Evolution
Print ISSN 0047-2484
Publisher Elsevier
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 54
Issue 6
Pages 848-874
Keywords Africa, Chronometry, Dating, Modern human origins, Near East.
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