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γ-Carboxyglutamic acid in fossil bones and its significance for amino acid dating

Abstract

AMINO ACID racemisation reactions are promising tools for dating fossil bones1. However, a major obstacle to their application on a routine basis by geologists, anthropologists, archaeologists and others, is the unresolved question of the effect of in situ leaching on apparent racemisation rates2,3. Evidence is presented here that γ-carboxyglutamic acid (Gla), an amino acid recently discovered in fresh bone matrix4,5, is preserved in fossil bone and is a potential quantitative index of leaching for resolving the current debate.

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