Letter | Published:

Fraction dependent variation of aspartic acid racemization age of fossil bone

Nature volume 286, pages 883884 (28 August 1980) | Download Citation

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Abstract

The extent of racemization of amino acids provides valuable information on the chronology of various fossil materials1–3. In bone, aspartic acid has received the most attention, and the D/L ratio of this amino acid has been used to estimate ages of human skeletal remains4–9. These estimates were, however, based on the degree of racemization determined for total remnant aspartic acid which may exist in various forms (that is, protein, peptide and free amino acid). The effect of the chemical state of amino acids on amino acid racemization rates or ages in calcareous marine sediments10 and shells11 has been discussed. In bones, the non-dialysable material in a heated modern sample has a lower racemization rate (isoleucine) than the total organic matrix12; free amino acids in fossil bone are more highly racemized than are bound (HCl-insoluble) amino acids13. The present investigation was designed to assess such fluctuation of aspartic acid racemization age for a given bone specimen as caused by the variability of the form in which the amino acid is present.

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Author information

Affiliations

  1. Department of Anthropology, National Science Museum (Natural History Institute), 3-23-1 Hyakunin-cho, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo 160, Japan

    • Shuji Matsu'ura
  2. Department of Biochemistry, Teikyo University School of Medicine, 2-11- Kaga, Itabashi-ku, Tokyo 173, Japan

    • Nobuo Ueta

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https://doi.org/10.1038/286883a0

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