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Rat remains help date New Zealand's colonisation | New Scientist

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Rat remains help date New Zealand's colonisation

Life 4 June 2008

LOVE or hate ’em, it seems the humble rat may have helped archaeologists settle the long-standing debate over when people first arrived in New Zealand, thanks to a carbon-dating study of their remains and the seeds they feasted on.

Human remains, patterns of deforestation, fossil records of animal extinctions and Maori oral history all suggest the islands were colonised in the late 13th century. Yet evidence from charcoal fires puts the arrival of humans as far back as 2000 years ago. A previous study of bones from rats – which Polynesian settlers brought with them as a food source – …

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