Amino acid dating is a dating technique      used to estimate the age of a specimen in paleobiology , molecular paleontology , archaeology , forensic science , taphonomy , sedimentary geology and other fields. This technique relates changes in amino acid molecules to the time elapsed since they were formed. All biological tissues contain amino acids. This means that the amino acid can have two different configurations, "D" or "L" which are mirror images of each other. With a few important exceptions, living organisms keep all their amino acids in the "L" configuration.
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Direct dating of human fossils
Amino acid dating - WikiMili, The Best Wikipedia Reader
Beatrice uses ostrich egg shells to date early modern human sites in South Africa. Amino acid geochronology is a relative dating technique able to span the whole Quaternary. It can be applied to a range of common materials which are directly related to the human occupation of an archaeological site, for example mollusc shells and ostrich eggshells. These are also preserved in sediments which accumulated as a response to global climatic pulses, during the Pleistocene and beyond. Therefore, amino acid geochronology has the potential to be widely applicable to the chronology of human evolution, as well as to the geological record. Racemisation it is a post-mortem spontaneous reaction, involving the interconversion between two different forms of a single amino acid, the D- and L-forms these are chemically identical but differ in the spatial configuration of their atoms.
Paleontological Research Institution
Racemization is the process in which one enantiomer of a compound, such as an L-amino acid, converts to the other enantiomer. An older convention, commonly used by biochemists to describe amino acids and sugars, uses the letters D and L to designate absolute configuration Figure 1. In a laboratory setting, scientists are able to measure the degree of racemization using polarimetry, liquid chromatography, capillary electrophoresis, and mass spectrometry. With these measurements, scientists can estimate the rate at which one enantiomer is converted to the other. Currently, these techniques are used to estimate the age of fossils, determine the life span of bowhead whales, and detect evidence of extraterrestrial life.
Amino acids are the building blocks of proteins. At the death of the creature that they were in, amino acids begin decomposing at varying rates. A major difficulty in applying this dating method is that, of the twenty amino acids, some decompose much more rapidly than others. Scientists can only try to estimate the age when an animal died by the amount of decomposition it has experienced since death. Gradually more stable compounds remain while others decompose in varying ways.