Independent age estimates resolve the controversy of ancient human footprints at White Sands.

Bibliographic Collection: 
Publication Type: Journal Article
Authors: Pigati, Jeffrey S; Springer, Kathleen B; Honke, Jeffrey S; Wahl, David; Champagne, Marie R; Zimmerman, Susan R H; Gray, Harrison J; Santucci, Vincent L; Odess, Daniel; Bustos, David; Bennett, Matthew R
Year of Publication: 2023
Journal: Science
Volume: 382
Issue: 6666
Pagination: 73-75
Date Published: 2023 Oct 06
Publication Language: eng
ISSN: 1095-9203
Keywords: Alismatales, Animals, Biological Evolution, Carbon Radioisotopes, Hominidae, Humans, Luminescence, New Mexico, North America, Parks, Recreational, Pollen, Radiometric Dating, Seeds

Human footprints at White Sands National Park, New Mexico, USA, reportedly date to between ~23,000 and 21,000 years ago according to radiocarbon dating of seeds from the aquatic plant . These ages remain controversial because of potential old carbon reservoir effects that could compromise their accuracy. We present new calibrated C ages of terrestrial pollen collected from the same stratigraphic horizons as those of the seeds, along with optically stimulated luminescence ages of sediments from within the human footprint-bearing sequence, to evaluate the veracity of the seed ages. The results show that the chronologic framework originally established for the White Sands footprints is robust and reaffirm that humans were present in North America during the Last Glacial Maximum.

DOI: 10.1126/science.adh5007
Alternate Journal: Science