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No. 41: Sep-Oct 1985

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California Skeletons Not So Old After All

About a decade ago, considerable controversy erupted when some obviously old human skeletons were dated at 37,000, 44,000, and even 70,000 BP by a new dating technique called Aspartic Acid Racemization (AAR). Conventional radioactive dating had put all of these skeletons at well under 10,000 BP, well within bounds of the Bering Strait migration hypothesis. The early AAR dates were thus at odds with current archeological thinking and, in addition, very encouraging to those who believed that humans occupied North America long before 10,000 BP. J.L. Bada, a proponent of AAR dating, now states that the controversial AAR dates were based on calibration skeletons which had been erroneously dated by radioactive methods. It seems that AAR dating requires an accurately dated reference skeleton. With the reference skeleton dates now known to be incorrect, Bada had to recalibrate his AAR dating scheme. The reference skeletons were therefore redated using a more accurate radioactive technique. All of the incredibly ancient skeletons have now been redated by AAR methods using the revised reference skeletons. The 37,000 BP date now becomes a reasonable 5,100 2000 BP figure. The AAR dating crisis seems to be over. All anomalies have been expunged.

(Bada, Jeffrey L.; "Aspartic Acid Racemization Ages of California Paleoindian Skeletons," American Antiquity, 50:645, 1985.)

From Science Frontiers #41, SEP-OCT 1985. 1985-2000 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