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The age of Homo naledi and associated sediments in the Rising Star Cave, South Africa

Journal Article


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Abstract


  • New ages for flowstone, sediments and fossil bones from the Dinaledi Chamber are

    presented. We combined optically stimulated luminescence dating of sediments with U-Th and

    palaeomagnetic analyses of flowstones to establish that all sediments containing Homo naledi

    fossils can be allocated to a single stratigraphic entity (sub-unit 3b), interpreted to be deposited

    between 236 ka and 414 ka. This result has been confirmed independently by dating three H.

    naledi teeth with combined U-series and electron spin resonance (US-ESR) dating. Two dating

    scenarios for the fossils were tested by varying the assumed levels of 222Rn loss in the encasing

    sediments: a maximum age scenario provides an average age for the two least altered fossil teeth

    of 253 +82/–70 ka, whilst a minimum age scenario yields an average age of 200 +70/–61 ka. We

    consider the maximum age scenario to more closely reflect conditions in the cave, and therefore,

    the true age of the fossils. By combining the US-ESR maximum age estimate obtained from the

    teeth, with the U-Th age for the oldest flowstone overlying Homo naledi fossils, we have

    constrained the depositional age of Homo naledi to a period between 236 ka and 335 ka. These

    age results demonstrate that a morphologically primitive hominin, Homo naledi, survived into the

    later parts of the Pleistocene in Africa, and indicate a much younger age for the Homo naledi fossils

    than have previously been hypothesized based on their morphology.

UOW Authors


  •   Dirks, Paul H.G.M. (external author)
  •   Roberts, Eric (external author)
  •   Hilbert-Wolf, Hannah (external author)
  •   Kramers, Jan (external author)
  •   Hawks, John (external author)
  •   Dosseto, Anthony
  •   Duval, Mathieu (external author)
  •   Elliott, Marina (external author)
  •   Evans, Mary (external author)
  •   Grün, Rainer (external author)

Publication Date


  • 2017

Published In


Citation


  • Dirks, P. H.G.M., Roberts, E. M., Hilbert-Wolf, H., Kramers, J. D., Hawks, J., Dosseto, A., Duval, M., Elliott, M., Evans, M., Grun, R. et al (2017). The age of Homo naledi and associated sediments in the Rising Star Cave, South Africa. eLife, 6 1-59.

Ro Full-text Url


  • http://ro.uow.edu.au/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=5721&context=smhpapers

Ro Metadata Url


  • http://ro.uow.edu.au/smhpapers/4695

Number Of Pages


  • 58

Start Page


  • 1

End Page


  • 59

Volume


  • 6

Abstract


  • New ages for flowstone, sediments and fossil bones from the Dinaledi Chamber are

    presented. We combined optically stimulated luminescence dating of sediments with U-Th and

    palaeomagnetic analyses of flowstones to establish that all sediments containing Homo naledi

    fossils can be allocated to a single stratigraphic entity (sub-unit 3b), interpreted to be deposited

    between 236 ka and 414 ka. This result has been confirmed independently by dating three H.

    naledi teeth with combined U-series and electron spin resonance (US-ESR) dating. Two dating

    scenarios for the fossils were tested by varying the assumed levels of 222Rn loss in the encasing

    sediments: a maximum age scenario provides an average age for the two least altered fossil teeth

    of 253 +82/–70 ka, whilst a minimum age scenario yields an average age of 200 +70/–61 ka. We

    consider the maximum age scenario to more closely reflect conditions in the cave, and therefore,

    the true age of the fossils. By combining the US-ESR maximum age estimate obtained from the

    teeth, with the U-Th age for the oldest flowstone overlying Homo naledi fossils, we have

    constrained the depositional age of Homo naledi to a period between 236 ka and 335 ka. These

    age results demonstrate that a morphologically primitive hominin, Homo naledi, survived into the

    later parts of the Pleistocene in Africa, and indicate a much younger age for the Homo naledi fossils

    than have previously been hypothesized based on their morphology.

UOW Authors


  •   Dirks, Paul H.G.M. (external author)
  •   Roberts, Eric (external author)
  •   Hilbert-Wolf, Hannah (external author)
  •   Kramers, Jan (external author)
  •   Hawks, John (external author)
  •   Dosseto, Anthony
  •   Duval, Mathieu (external author)
  •   Elliott, Marina (external author)
  •   Evans, Mary (external author)
  •   Grün, Rainer (external author)

Publication Date


  • 2017

Published In


Citation


  • Dirks, P. H.G.M., Roberts, E. M., Hilbert-Wolf, H., Kramers, J. D., Hawks, J., Dosseto, A., Duval, M., Elliott, M., Evans, M., Grun, R. et al (2017). The age of Homo naledi and associated sediments in the Rising Star Cave, South Africa. eLife, 6 1-59.

Ro Full-text Url


  • http://ro.uow.edu.au/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=5721&context=smhpapers

Ro Metadata Url


  • http://ro.uow.edu.au/smhpapers/4695

Number Of Pages


  • 58

Start Page


  • 1

End Page


  • 59

Volume


  • 6