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Blue circles, our reexcavations; red circles, museum collections (see Table S1 for stratigraphic and other details).ages from previous studies (20, 21) also shown in their laboratory processing order (1995–19–1998) (40): open diamonds, archaeological sites (36); black diamonds, laughing owl sites (21), showing unusual bimodal distribution (36).Our method exploits the fact that the omnivorous rat was transported throughout the Pacific by prehistoric people and multiplied rapidly after its initial introduction.
We illustrate this approach here using New Zealand, the southernmost archipelago of East Polynesia, because it provides an excellent case study where an unresolved polarized debate persists about the time of initial human colonization (18) roost sites (20, 21) and distinctive rat-gnawed woody seed cases bearing the tell-tale incisor marks of seed predation found preserved in sediments (15, 22).
D.), but all bones dated after 1996 are younger (36, 37) (Fig. Moreover, some rat bones from archaeological assemblages that were processed in 19 are significantly older than consistent dates on diverse materials from the same stratigraphic contexts (34, 35).
Critics argued that this unusual bimodal distribution of ages according to when the bones were processed was due to inadequate pretreatment of small bones (33, 35 from Earthquakes #1, Predator Cave, and seven other South Island laughing owl sites from which the original 1995–1996 rat bone dates were derived (20, 21).
This then suggests that the current indigenous people of New Zealand (Maori and Moriori) were neither of East Polynesian origin nor the first discoverers.
However, this is inconsistent with analyses of New Zealand Pacific rat and Maori mt DNA (26, 31).
Seed cases are ideal for AMS radiocarbon dating, because they require less complex pretreatment than bone (22).