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No. 21: May-Jun 1982

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The Hueyatlaco Dilemma

Beds containing human artifacts at Valsequillo, Mexico, have been dated at approximately 250,000 years before the present by fission-track dating of volcanic material and uranium dating of a camel pelvis. The dilemma posed by such dates is clearly stated in the following quotation from the conclusions of the subject article.

"The evidence outlined here consistently indicates that the Hueyatlaco site is about 250,000 yr old. We who have worked on geological aspects of the Valsequillo area are painfully aware that so great an age poses an archeological dilemma. If the geological dating is correct, sophisticated stone tools were used at Valsequillo long before analogous tools are though to have been developed in Europe and Asia. Thus, our colleague, Cynthia Irwin-Williams, has criticized the dating methods we have used, and she wishes us to emphasize that an age of 250,000 yr is essentially impossible."

(Steen-McIntyre, Virginia, et al; "Geologic Evidence for Age of Deposits at Hueyatlaco Archeological Site, Valsequillo, Mexico," Quaternary Research, 16:1, 1981.)

Comment. The above impasse is reminiscent of Lord Kelvin's insistence that the earth is only about 100,000 years old based upon his calculations of the sun's energy-producing capabilities. Geologists thought otherwise, requiring roughly a billion years for nature to sculpt the earth they saw. Kelvin didn't reckon on nuclear energy, and the geologists had the last laugh!

From Science Frontiers #21, MAY-JUN 1982. 1982-2000 William R. Corliss

Science Frontiers Sourcebook Project Reviewed in:


  • "A sourcebook of unexplained phenomena is therefore a valuable addition to a collection of scientific literature. William R. Corliss has provided this in the past with his source books of scientific anomalies in several subjects, and now he has provided it for astronomy. He has done an excellent job of collecting and editing a large amount of material, taken in part from scientific journals and in part from scientific reporting in the popular or semi-scientific press." -- "The Mysterious Universe: A Handbook of Astronomical Anomalies", reviwed by Thomas Gold, Cornell University, in Icarus, vol.41, 1980

  • "An interesting, systematic presentation of unusual weather [..] This book is recommended for a general audience" --"Corliss, William R., Tornados, Dark Days, Anomalous Precipitation, and Related Weather Phenomena, Sourcebook Project, 1983.", revieweed in Choice, September 1983
  • "..the science is necessarily somewhat speculative, but Corliss's symthesis is based on reputable sources." -- "Corliss, William R. (Compiler). Lightning, Auroras, Nocturnal Lights, and Related Luminous Phenomena" reviwed by Joseph M. Moran, Univ. of Wisconsin in Science Books and Films, Sep/Oct 1983

  • "Before opening the book, I set certain standards that a volume which treads into dangerous grounds grounds like this must meet. The author scrupulously met, or even exceeded those standards. Each phenomenon is exhaustively documented, with references to scientific journals [..] and extensive quotations" -- "Book Review: The moon and planets: a catalog of astronomical anomalies", The Sourcebook Project, 1985., Corliss, W. R., Journal of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada, Vol. 81, no. 1 (1987), p. 24., 02/1987