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U-Pb Isotopic Age of the StW 573 Hominid from Sterkfontein, South Africa

Joanne Walker, Robert A. Cliff and Alfred G. Latham
Science
New Series, Vol. 314, No. 5805 (Dec. 8, 2006), pp. 1592-1594
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/20032988
Page Count: 3
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U-Pb Isotopic Age of the StW 573 Hominid from Sterkfontein, South Africa
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Abstract

Sterkfontein cave, South Africa, has yielded an australopith skeleton, StW 573, whose completeness has excited great interest in paleoanthropology. StW 573, or "Little Foot," was found 25 meters below the surface in the Silberberg Grotto. ${}^{238}\text{U}$ - ${}^{206}\text{Pb}$ measurements on speleothems immediately above and below the fossil remains, corrected for initial ${}^{234}\text{U}$ disequilibrium, yield ages of 2.17 ± 0.17 million years ago (Ma) and $2.24_{-0.07}^{+0.09}$ Ma, respectively, indicating an age for StW 573 of close to 2.2 Ma. This age is in contrast to an age of ∼3.3 Ma suggested by magnetochronology and ages of ∼4 Ma based on ${}^{10}\text{Be}$ and ${}^{26}\text{Al}$ , but it is compatible with a faunal age range of 4 to 2 Ma.

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