Amino acid dating
Bada, Jeffrey L. Scripps Institution of Oceanography, University of California, San Diego, California.
- Dating fossils
- Racemization in living mammals
- Other applications of amino acid racemization
- Links to Primary Literature
- Additional Readings
Determination of the relative or absolute age of materials or objects by measurement of the degree of racemization of the amino acids present. With the exception of glycine, the amino acids found in proteins can exist in two isomeric forms called D- and L-enantiomers. Although the enantiomers of an amino acid rotate plane-polarized light in equal but opposite directions, their other chemical and physical properties are identical. Amino acid handedness or homochirality is one of the most distinctive features of terrestrial life. It was discovered by L. Pasteur around 1850 that only L-amino acids are generally found in living organisms, but scientists still have not formulated a convincing reason to explain why life on Earth is based on only L-amino acids. See also: Amino acids
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