Stable isotope evaluation of the origins of amino acids in fossils View Full Text


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Article Info

DATE

1986-10

AUTHORS

Michael H. Engel, Stephen A. Macko

ABSTRACT

The racemization reactions of amino acids in Quaternary fossil materials have been exploited for absolute dating1,2, stratigraphic correlation3,4 and palaeothermometry5. Recent work has involved the isolation of amino acid constituents of proteinaceous material from fossil bones for 14C dating6 and for establishing ancient dietary preferences by determining the stable nitrogen and carbon isotopic compositions of fossil collagens7,8. Such investigations are often hindered by a lack of control over the indigeneity of these compounds, as the ubiquitous nature of amino acids generally precludes the determination of the absolute authenticity of amino acids in fossils by conventional means. However, the amino acids in organisms have been found to have distinct stable isotopic compositions9,10. Here we report experimental results which indicate that after the death of an organism, low-temperature diagenetic reactions such as racemization should not cause a significant shift in the stable carbon or nitrogen isotopic compositions of the resultant D- and L-amino acid enantiomer products. We therefore propose that a comparison of these enantiomers from individual amino acids isolated from fossils may provide, for the first time, a method for establishing the absolute indigeneity of these compounds. More... »

PAGES

531-533

Identifiers

URI

http://scigraph.springernature.com/pub.10.1038/323531a0

DOI

http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/323531a0

DIMENSIONS

https://app.dimensions.ai/details/publication/pub.1031607567


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