Sep 10, 2015

homo naledi

The big news this week is the announcement of a newly discovered, extinct, hominid named homo naledi in South Africa. Interesting. There's a big problem though.

They don't know how old this hominid is. This is primarily because of how these pre-humans died or at least were disposed off. There is no sedimentary layers around them.

But without dating we really don't know what we have. These could be 2-3 million years old and at the transition from australopithecus to homo or they could be 100,000 years old. That's too be a range to be remotely useful in understanding what this find means.

Radiocarbon dating can't date things back millions of years. But at least running the test on these remains would tell you if they were 10,000 or 50,000 years old or at least rule these ranges out. Why this wasn't done is strange.

There are other issues too. The two papers were published in eLife. eLife? Not one of the more well known paleontology journals but essentially an open source science publication platform.

Also most of the invited paleontologists are super young. Some just received their Ph.D.s and post-docs.

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