Del Mar skull

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The Del Mar skull is a human skull found in 1929 at a sea cliff near San Dieguito River in Southern California, USA. It is often cited by American Indian creationists.


The skull was found in 1929 on a sea cliff by archaeologist Malcolm T. Rogers. It was not examined until 1974 when Jeffrey R. Bada, a chemist of Scripps Institution of Oceanography, used a new dating system to date the skull by using an amino acid technique and pronounced the Del Mar skull to be 48,000 years old.[1][2] The skull made a brief appearance on a fourth season episode of the television program In Search of... entitled "Earth Visitors". Quoting the results of the Bada dating test, the program offered the skull as evidence that the Americas had been explored by ancient civilizations well before the arrival of Native Americans.

Bada's dating methods for the skull were controversial and have been rejected by many scientists. A subsequent study carried out by James L. Bischoff and Robert J. Rosenbauer in 1981 of the United States Geological Survey reported that based on radiometric dating, the Del Mar skull was 11,000 years old. According to more recent studies cited by Stuart J. Fiedel in Prehistory of the Americas (1992) the Del Mar skull was dated in 1984 by using a newly developed C14 acceletator mass spectrometry process which revealed that the Del Mar skull is only 4,900 years old. This date is no longer controversial.[3][4]


American Indian creationists have argued that the Del Mar skull is Paleo-Indian in origin and is evidence that their ancestors originated in America, as opposed to migrating from Asia.[5] Anthropologist Jeffrey Goodman cites the skull's supposed 70,000-year age in support of this conclusion in his 1981 book American Genesis, arguing that the skull proves that man originated in the Americas.[6][7] Fellow anthropologist George F. Carter, though not going quite so far, used a dating technique called amino acid racemization on related skulls to support his hypothesis that man has existed in the Americas for up to 100,000 years. Unfortunately for him, the technique was proven unreliable in the 1980's and more recent methods have estimated Carter's bones to be around 10,000 years old.[8] In general, scientific consensus holds that none of these claims carry any water.[9]


  1. J. L. Bada, R. A. Schroeder, and G. F. Carter, New Evidence for the Antiquity of Man in North America Deduced from Aspartic Acid Racemization, Science, Vol. 184, p. 791-793 (1974).
  2. Jeffrey L. Bada and Patricia Masters Helfman World Archaeology Vol. 7, No. 2, Dating: New Methods and New Results (Oct., 1975), pp. 160-173
  3. Brian Regal Human evolution: a guide to the debates 2004, p. 157
  4. Joseph L. Chartkoff, Kerry Kona Chartkoff The archaeology of California 1984, p. 35
  5. New West, Volume 6, 1981, p. 63
  6. Jeffrey Goodman American genesis: the American Indian and the origins of modern man Summit Books, 1981, p. 84
  7. Jeffrey Goodman and the Del Mar skull
  8. George F. Carter
  9. Stuart J. Fiedel Prehistory of the Americas 1992, p. 44