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3. Easier access to “fossil gelatin” and quality check by amino acid racemization

Elster, Hartwig
Palaeogeography, palaeoclimatology, palaeoecology 2019 v.526 pp. 43-52
aspartic acid, bones, cleaning, enantiomers, fossils, gas chromatography, gelatin, mass spectrometry, polymers, stable isotopes
Gelatin in fossil bones is the most important source for radiocarbon, stable isotopes, ZooMS (Zooarchaeology by Mass Spectrometry) and Amino Acid Racemization (AAR) studies. The isolation and cleaning of fossil gelatin is a time consuming procedure and can introduce contaminations, which, as a consequence, can produce erroneous results.By synthesizing and optimizing a “Molecularly Imprinted Polymer” (MIP) for gelatin this isolation procedure can be faster and more specific.This first application of MIP on fossil gelatin is described. By optimizing the sample preparation over all steps from getting fossil bone powder (ca. 20 mg), isolating the fossil gelatin by MIP, and analyzing the amino acids, especially the enantiomers of aspartic acid from the fossil gelatin by gas chromatography (GC), results are available within one day.These results include a measure of the quality of the fossil gelatin by the pattern of the single amino acids and the ratios of defined amino acids from the GC chromatogram. At the same time, the AAR can give an estimate of the relative age of the fossil bones.