Carbon dating hominids
Unlike carbon-14 dating, which measures ages in the tens of thousands of years, uranium-lead dating measures in the millions to billions of years.In fact, uranium-lead dating was responsible for providing us with one of the first accurate measures of the age of the Earth at over 4.5 billion years. sediba remains at the Malapa site, Robyn Pickering was fine-tuning a technique for her Ph D that would enable uranium-lead dating of much younger rocks than it had previously been used to date.
The signature of this shift remains, nonetheless, and in the case of Au.
Dr Robyn Pickering, a geochemist working at the School of Earth Sciences at the University of Melbourne, is the lead author on a paper in the journal Science that describes how Australopithecus sediba was dated so accurately.
The first step, and the step that Dr Pickering was most intimately involved in, was uranium-lead dating of the limestone deposits, or flowstones, which lay above and below the Au. Uranium-lead dating is similar to carbon-14 dating, in that it measures the gradual decay of a chemical element’s radioactive variants, or isotopes, over time.
Last month, many around the world read about the unveiling of the remarkably intact remains of two Australopithecus sediba individuals from the Malapa cave site in South Africa.
What these remains mean for the way we draw our family tree – are they or aren’t they our direct ancestors, for instance – is still being debated.
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Every so often, a curious thing happens to the Earth’s magnetic field.