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SCIENCE IN THE NEWS DAILY

Human Arrival in New Zealand Later Than Thought?

from the Los Angeles Times (Registration Required)

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (Associated Press) -- Radiocarbon dating of rat bones and rat-gnawed seeds reinforces a theory that human settlers did not arrive in New Zealand until 1300 A.D. -- about 1,000 years later than some scientists believe, according to a study released Tuesday.

The first settlement date "has been highly debated for decades," said Dr. Janet Wilmshurst, a New Zealander who led the international team of researchers in the four-year study. The team carbon dated rat bones and native seeds, and concluded that the earliest evidence of human colonization in the South Pacific country was from 1280 A.D. to 1300 A.D.

Retired Maori Studies professor Ranganui Walker said the findings supported the oral history of the Maoris who claim they were the first Polynesians to arrive in New Zealand around that time. The Morioris, non-Maori Polynesians, have claimed they arrived earlier.

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