Thursday, July 16, 2009

Dating Hominids Based on What the Animals at the Sites Ate

ScienceDaily has a story on how to date fossil hominid sites based on the dental remains of the animals that lived around them. As the story relates:

Florent Rivals is the main author and a researcher from the Catalan Institute for Research and Advanced Studies (ICREA), attached to the IPHES in Tarragona. "For the first time, a method has been put forward which allows us to establish the relative length of the human occupations at archaeological sites as, up until now, it was difficult to ascertain the difference between, for example, a single long-term occupation and a succession of shorter seasonal occupations in the same place", he explained to SINC.

In the study, recently published in the Journal of Human Evolution, the researchers analyze the dental wear of the ungulates (herbivorous mammals) caused by microscopic particles of opaline silica in plants. These marks appear when eating takes place and erase the previous ones. This is why they are so useful.

This almost qualifies as a taphonomic technique and to have it as an extra tool in trying to figure out how these people lived and what they ate is good news.

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  1. Personally, I prefer dating* hominids based on personality, physical attractiveness and net worth. Not necessarily in that order.

    *Or, rather, I did before I got married.

  2. *drum roll* Haw Haw.