Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Scientists provide a more accurate age for the El Sidrón cave Neanderthals

Date:
April 2, 2013
Source:
Plataforma SINC
Summary:
A study has been able to accurately determine the age of the Neanderthal remains found in the El Sidrón cave (Asturias, Spain) for which previous studies had provided inexact measurements. The application of a pre-treatment to reduce contamination by modern carbon has managed to lower the margin of error from 40,000 to just 3,200 years.

Scientists working at El Sidrón cave (Spain).
Credit: University of Oviedo

A study has been able to accurately determine the age of the Neanderthal remains found in the El Sidrón cave (Asturias, Spain) for which previous studies had provided inexact measurements. The application of a pre-treatment to reduce contamination by modern carbon has managed to lower the margin of error from 40,000 to just 3,200 years.

Related Articles


El Sidrón cave in Asturias (northern Spain) is one of the westernmost Neanderthal sites on the Iberian Peninsula and contains a large amount of this type of remains in addition to the flint tools they used. Now, thanks to the development of new analytical procedures, a research team co-ordinated by the University of Oviedo (Spain) has managed to provide a more accurate dating for these Neanderthal populations in Asturias.

The age of the El Sidrón remains could prove to be an important piece of information in the discussion about when the transition from Neanderthal to Homo sapiens took place in Europe. "Some previous datings that stated the remains were only 10,000 years old are inconsistent and cannot be considered credible. They would be highly disputed in the discussion about when Homo neanderthalensis became extinct," as explained by Marco de la Rasilla, co-ordinator of the research team.

In order to adjust the age of these Neanderthals, De La Rasilla and his team compared previous results from the French Climate and Environmental Sciences Laboratory (LSCE, its acronym in French), with new data obtained by the Oxford Radiocarbon Accelerator Unit (ORAU). The datings provided by both laboratories have enabled them to confirm that the Neanderthals from the Asturian cave lived some 49,000 years ago.

"The previous measurement of 10,000 years for this episode was due to a contamination issue," De La Rasilla explained. Carbon-14 is the most widely-used dating method in archaeology and it measures the age of the carbon found in an object. If the sample becomes contaminated with modern carbon or other substances then the object may appear younger than it actually is.

The new carbon-14 dating in Oxford's ORAU laboratory was preceded by a highly sophisticated ultrafiltration treatment to reduce contamination as much as possible. The results revealed that the remains are between 45,200 and 51,600 years old.

The weighted average between this data and the data obtained previously by the French laboratory, where the sample underwent a different pre-treatment with ninhydrin to remove contaminants, places the Neanderthal inhabitants of El Sidrón 49,000 years ago. "The fact that two separate laboratories using different treatments came up with similar figures makes this date even more reliable" De La Rasilla concluded.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Plataforma SINC. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal References:

  1. R. E. Wood, T. F. G. Higham, T. De Torres, N. Tisnérat-Laborde, H. Valladas, J. E. Ortiz, C. Lalueza-Fox, S. Sánchez-Moral, J. C. Cañaveras, A. Rosas, D. Santamaría, M. De La Rasilla. A new date for the Neanderthals from El Sidrón cave (Asturias, northern Spain). Archaeometry, 2013; 55 (1): 148 DOI: 10.1111/j.1475-4754.2012.00671.x
  2. T. De Torres, J. E. Ortiz, R. Grün, S. Eggins, H. Valladas, N. Mercier, N. Tisnérat-Laborde, R. Juliá, V. Soler, E. Martínez, S. Sánchez-Moral, J. C. Cañaveras, J. Lario, E. Badal, C. Lalueza-Fox, A. Rosas, D. Santamaría, M. De La Rasilla, J. Fortea. Dating of the hominid (Homo Neanderthalensis) remains accumulation from El Sidrón cave (Borines, Asturias, North Spain): an example of multi-methodological approach to the dating of Upper Pleistocene sites. Archaeometry, 2009; DOI: 10.1111/j.1475-4754.2009.00491.x

Cite This Page:

Plataforma SINC. "Scientists provide a more accurate age for the El Sidrón cave Neanderthals." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 2 April 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/04/130402091145.htm>.
Plataforma SINC. (2013, April 2). Scientists provide a more accurate age for the El Sidrón cave Neanderthals. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 21, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/04/130402091145.htm
Plataforma SINC. "Scientists provide a more accurate age for the El Sidrón cave Neanderthals." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/04/130402091145.htm (accessed December 21, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Fossils & Ruins News

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Researchers Bring Player Pianos Back to Life

Researchers Bring Player Pianos Back to Life

AP (Dec. 17, 2014) — Stanford University wants to unlock the secrets of the player piano. Researchers are restoring and studying self-playing pianos and the music rolls that recorded major composers performing their own work. (Dec. 17) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Domestication Might've Been Bad For Horses

Domestication Might've Been Bad For Horses

Newsy (Dec. 16, 2014) — A group of scientists looked at the genetics behind the domestication of the horse and showed how human manipulation changed horses' DNA. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Mozart, Beethoven, Shubert and Bizet Manuscripts to Go on Sale

Mozart, Beethoven, Shubert and Bizet Manuscripts to Go on Sale

AFP (Dec. 16, 2014) — A collection of rare manuscripts by composers Mozart, Beethoven, Shubert and Bizet are due to go on sale at auction on December 17. Duration: 00:57 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Old Ship Records to Shed Light on Arctic Ice Loss

Old Ship Records to Shed Light on Arctic Ice Loss

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Dec. 15, 2014) — Researchers are looking to the past to gain a clearer picture of what the future holds for ice in the Arctic. A project to analyse and digitize ship logs dating back to the 1850's aims to lengthen the timeline of recorded ice data. Ben Gruber reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins