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27-Feb-2016 18:34

Mammalian biostratigraphy places the find layer in a young, but not the youngest, interglacial of the Cromerian complex, probably Cromerian IV or Cromerian III (2, 4).

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In view of the importance of this site for documenting the appearance of in Europe, more accurate dating is desirable.The age of terrestrial Quaternary deposits beyond 400 ka is difficult to assess by chronometric dating, particularly when volcanic layers are missing.Earlier attempts to date the Mauer sands, namely by thermoluminescence of feldspar and electron spin resonance (ESR) of quartz as well as uranium-series (US) dating of an elephant tusk, were unsatisfactory (3).Both sand units are renowned for their rich early Middle Pleistocene mammal fauna that clearly indicate warm climate conditions (2) attributed to two distinct Middle Pleistocene interglacial stages.

The good preservation of the mammal bones (2)—and in particular of the human mandible—indicates that they were transported from a nearby fluvial floodplain before becoming embedded in the river deposits (i.e., they have the same geological age as their surrounding sediment layers).A minimum age for the SH deposits is now reported to be 530 ka (19), whereas specimens from the British, French, and Italian localities are dated at 500 ka or younger.