Amino acid dating

Dating technique using changes in amino acid molecules to estimate the age of a specimen / From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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.[1][2][3][4][5]

All biological tissues contain amino acids. All amino acids except glycine (the simplest one) are optically active, having a stereocenter at their α-C atom. 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. When an organism dies, control over the configuration of the amino acids ceases, and the ratio of D to L moves from a value near 0 towards an equilibrium value near 1, a process called racemization. Thus, measuring the ratio of D to L in a sample enables one to estimate how long ago the specimen died.[6]