Subscribe to our free daily newsletters
. Earth Science News .




Subscribe to our free daily newsletters



ABOUT US
Scientist uses 'dinosaur crater' rocks, prehistoric teeth to track ancient humans
by Staff Writers
Washington DC (SPX) Nov 22, 2016


File image.

Where's the best place to start when retracing the life of a person who lived 4,000 years ago? Turns out, it's simple - you start at the beginning. Using a method known for helping forensic scientists solve cold cases, University of Florida doctoral student Ashley Sharpe created a map for determining the birthplace of ancient people and animals in Central America. Archaeologists will use the map to match lead found in bedrock from specific locations to a curious source: millennia-old teeth.

Pinpointing birth and death locations will help Sharpe and other archaeologists track the movement of prehistoric Maya and potentially solve mysteries surrounding the civilization's origins and eventual demise.

Sharpe sampled lead isotope values found in rocks, which act as local signatures, from the Chicxulub crater in the Yucatan Peninsula-- the site of the asteroid impact that wiped out the dinosaurs-- and places in Belize, Guatemala and Honduras. Details of the new study are described in the November issue of PLOS ONE.

"If I find an ancient Maya individual buried on the Yucatan in Mexico, I can do a chemical analysis of the lead in their teeth and discover a very different story," said Sharpe, who graduates from UF's department of anthropology and the environmental archaeology program at the Florida Museum of Natural History on the UF campus this fall.

"Maybe they originally came from Guatemala. This can change our view of everything."

When our tooth enamel forms during childhood, it incorporates elements from the local environment, including the dust we breathe from rock layers beneath our feet. Bones, on the other hand, change every few years. And as we decompose, our bones soak up materials around the area we're buried like a sponge.

As the hardest substance in the human body, tooth enamel is different. It offers a window into life histories.

Tracing the movement of individuals via their teeth can offer clues about marriage alliances and slavery practices. Building knowledge of individual lives helps archaeologists figure out which villages were enemies, which were allies, and how the Maya communicated and traveled between cities.

This could lead to a better understanding of how communication networks developed between Maya states, Sharpe said.

Previously, UF forensic anthropologists used lead analysis to trace the birthplace of unidentified homicide victims. UF archaeologists have also used lead to track ancient humans in the Indus Valley Civilization.

UF forensic anthropologists are using lead analysis to trace the birthplace of unidentified homicide victims, which can help police investigators narrow their search for missing persons to a particular state, country or region.

Other archaeologists at UF have included lead analysis in research used to track ancient humans from the Indus Valley Civilization.

"The anthropology department here at UF is becoming a hub for lead-based research," Sharpe said.

"In other words, we're the place to go if you need to track the origins an ancient or modern skeleton."

Researchers extract lead by first grinding up teeth, then inserting the particles into an inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometer. Temperatures inside the machine can be hotter than the sun, separating the lead.

Pollution makes using lead to identify the birthplace of modern people more complicated.

If someone unearthed the remains of a native Floridian 1,000 years from now, the lead in their teeth would probably be the same as someone from across the country because we all breathe similar pollution, which contaminates the lead, said study co-author John Krigbaum, a biological anthropologist at UF.

"Back in prehistoric times, people were a product of the lands that they grew up on, the foods that they ate and the air they breathed," Krigbaum said. "That's also the case today."


Comment on this article using your Disqus, Facebook, Google or Twitter login.


Thanks for being here;
We need your help. The SpaceDaily news network continues to grow but revenues have never been harder to maintain.

With the rise of Ad Blockers, and Facebook - our traditional revenue sources via quality network advertising continues to decline. And unlike so many other news sites, we don't have a paywall - with those annoying usernames and passwords.

Our news coverage takes time and effort to publish 365 days a year.

If you find our news sites informative and useful then please consider becoming a regular supporter or for now make a one off contribution.

SpaceDaily Contributor
$5 Billed Once


credit card or paypal
SpaceDaily Monthly Supporter
$5 Billed Monthly


paypal only

.


Related Links
University of Florida
All About Human Beings and How We Got To Be Here






Share this article via these popular social media networks
del.icio.usdel.icio.us DiggDigg RedditReddit GoogleGoogle

Previous Report
ABOUT US
Genes for speech may not be limited to humans
Washington DC (SPX) Nov 16, 2016
Our current understanding is that mice have either no - or extremely limited - neural circuitry and genes similar to those that regulate human speech. According to a recent study published in Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience, this understanding may be incorrect. Dr. Jonathan Chabout is the lead author of the paper, whose principal investigator is Dr. Erich Jarvis. Dr. Jarvis and collea ... read more


ABOUT US
How to stop human-made droughts and floods before they start

After bloody year, Chicago looks to tougher gun laws

Tech would use drones and insect biobots to map disaster areas

New Zealand navy ships 'shellshocked' quake tourists to safety

ABOUT US
Malawi could help secure raw materials for green technologies

Ice is no match for CSU-developed coating

Beautiful accident leads to advances in high pressure materials synthesis

2-D material a brittle surprise

ABOUT US
Unraveling the mysterious source of methane gas in the ocean

Kelp forests globally resilient, but may need local solutions to environmental threats

Study finds less gloomy outlook for subtropical rainfall

Underwater video reveals culprits behind disappearance of NSW kelp forests

ABOUT US
Probing Greenland's ice sheet for future satellites

Extremely Warm 2015-'16 Winter Cyclone Weakened Arctic Sea Ice Pack

Scientists prepare to find oldest ice on Earth

Iceberg patrol gains faster updates from orbit

ABOUT US
DNA study unravels the history of the world's most produced cereal

Precut salad promotes salmonella growth: Study

Cutting food waste saves money for French supermarkets

Another species of Varroa mite threatens European honeybees

ABOUT US
Seismologists warn of more quakes in New Zealand

Relieved tourists escape New Zealand quake town

Tears and beers as tourists recount NZ quake 'pandemonium'

Two dead after NZ quake, residents flee tsunami

ABOUT US
US seeks UN arms embargo against South Sudan

Uganda nabs suspect in $120 mn fake arms deal

Africa waits and wonders on Trump's foreign policy

Mali coup leader readies for trial over massacre

ABOUT US
Genes for speech may not be limited to humans

Traumatic stress shapes the brains of boys and girls in different ways

Neanderthal inheritance helped humans adapt to life outside of Africa

Evolution purged many Neanderthal genes from human genome




Memory Foam Mattress Review
Newsletters :: SpaceDaily :: SpaceWar :: TerraDaily :: Energy Daily
XML Feeds :: Space News :: Earth News :: War News :: Solar Energy News






The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2017 - Space Media Network. All websites are published in Australia and are solely subject to Australian law and governed by Fair Use principals for news reporting and research purposes. AFP, UPI and IANS news wire stories are copyright Agence France-Presse, United Press International and Indo-Asia News Service. ESA news reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. All articles labeled "by Staff Writers" include reports supplied to Space Media Network by industry news wires, PR agencies, corporate press officers and the like. Such articles are individually curated and edited by Space Media Network staff on the basis of the report's information value to our industry and professional readership. Advertising does not imply endorsement, agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. Privacy Statement