Tuesday 15 May 2012

It's Not Monday! It's Fry-Day.

I just pressed send on an email to Francesco Berna and Paul Goldberg, asking them to respond to my argument just the other day that they shouldn't have expected to see Berlinite in the fire-affected sediments at Wonderwerk Cave. Viz.
Berna, et al. 2012. Microstratigraphic evidence of in situ fire in the Acheulean strata of Wonderwerk Cave, Northern Cape province, South Africa. PNAS April 2, 2012. Published online before print April 2, 2012, doi:10.1073/pnas.1117620109
Remember? They argued that the fire had to have been deliberately introduced to the cave by hominids because they found nothing that would suggest that spontaneous combustion of bat guano was responsible. They erroneously believe that bat guano spontaneous combustion necessarily produces Berlinite. But they are tripped up by an empirical bump in the road. They report finding the effects of heat, but only up to 550 degrees Celsius. Unbeknownst to them, Berlinite forms at 583. Thus, their claim for fire use at 1 Ma is baseless. 
     I'm hoping that the direct approach will coax them either to overcome the shortcomings of their empirical findings or publish a retraction of their huge claim that at 1 Ma hominids were using fire.

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