You Are What You Eat, Plus a Few Permil – #365papers – 2017 – 20

#365papers for January 20, 2016

Passey, Robinson, Ayliffe, Cerling, Sponheimer, Dearing, Roeder, and Ehleringer, 2005, Carbon isotope fractionation between diet, breath CO2, and bioapatite in different mammals: Journal of Archaeological Science, v. 32, p. 1459-1470.

What’s it about?

This paper discusses how carbon from food becomes incorporated into the tooth enamel of mammals. More specifically, it examines the fractionation in isotopic ratios from food to enamel based upon groups of mammals having different sizes and physiologies.

Why does it matter?

We assume a constant fractionation of 14 permil for carbon between food and tooth enamel in large hoofed mammals. This paper shows that 14 permil is right for some mammal groups, but not all, and explores where some of the differences may be coming from. This is really important if you’re relying on carbon isotopes from tooth enamel to reconstruct ancient environments.

Why did I read this?

This paper is a seminal paper in the study of stable isotopes, particularly carbon and oxygen, from tooth enamel. I found that I needed to remind myself of the content of this paper, so I read it again.

Published by paleololigo

Scientist (Paleontology, Geochemistry, Geology); Writer (Speculative and Science Fiction, plus technical and non-technical Science); Mom to great boy on the Autism spectrum; possessor of too many hobbies.

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