Amino racemization dating
Additionally, characterization of nucleic acids can often be difficult and time-consuming.
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).Currently, these techniques are used to estimate the age of fossils, determine the life span of bowhead whales, and detect evidence of extraterrestrial life.Chemical Whale Tales Since 1981, whale hunters in Alaska have found at least six harpoon heads in bowhead whales that they have killed in the Beaufort Sea, southwest of the Arctic Ocean. Anthropologists at the Smithsonian Institution (Washington, DC) estimate that they are between 130 and 200 years old and were probably used by Inupiat hunters in the late 1700s. Amino acid racemization is simply an indicator of the level of degradation of DNA.DNA degradation is difficult to quickly evaluate, and amino acid racemization is a proxy for this evaluation, states Bada.