Abstract

Mass spectrometric U-series dating of speleothems from Tangshan Cave, combined with ecological and paleoclimatic evidence, indicates that Nanjing Man, a typical Homo erectus morphologically correlated with Peking Man at Zhoukoudian, should be at least 580 k.y. old, or more likely lived during the glacial oxygen isotope stage 16 (∼620 ka). Such an age estimate, which is ∼270 ka older than previous electron spin resonance and alpha-counting U-series dates, has significant implications for the evolution of Asian H. erectus. Dentine and enamel samples from the coexisting fossil layer yield significantly younger apparent ages, that of the enamel sample being only less than one-fourth of the minimum age of Nanjing Man. This suggests that U uptake history is far more complex than existing models can handle. As a result, great care must be taken in the interpretation of electron spin resonance and U-series dates of fossil teeth.

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