He first demonstrated the accuracy of radiocarbon dating by accurately estimating the age of wood from an ancient Egyptian royal barge of which the age was known from historical documents.
Radiocarbon dating of rat bones and rat-gnawed seeds reinforces a theory that human settlers did not arrive in New Zealand until 1300 A. — about 1,000 years later than some scientists believe, according to a study released Tuesday.
While the radiocarbon dating method can provide close estimations of age, the figures should not be regarded as exact.
The method was developed by Willard Libby and his colleagues at the University of Chicago in 1949.
In 1960, he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for this work.
But University of Adelaide paleontologist Trevor Worthy, a member of the Wilmhurst team, was adamant the new carbon dating results proved the Nature claim wrong.
"There is no supporting ecological or archaeological evidence for the presence of Pacific rat or humans until 1280-1300 A. and the reliability of the bone dating from that first study has been questioned," Worthy said.