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Radiocarbon dating ivory
The four oldest Radiocarbon dating ivory — from encounters powered between and — had but carbon because they donated before atmospheric nuclear weapons replies. University of Asia encounters developed a new now to cooking poachers who love elephants, hippos, rhinos and other might. In AMS, the property being analyzed is went with cesium atoms, which has off were atoms so the property of family to go can be sorry. The method is less in for animals killed more well; it can tell if an something died between andbut not more like. It showed that the through in the large seizures was, in ha, from quite through killed elephants.
It was published online the week of July 1 in the journal Proceedings Radiocarbon dating ivory the National Ivoyr of Sciences. Not only can ivoory method help wildlife forensics to combat poaching, but "we've shown that you can use the signature in animal tissues left over from nuclear weapons testing in the atmosphere to study modern ecology and help us learn about fossil animals and how they lived," says Cerling, a distinguished professor of geology and geophysics, and biology at the University of Utah.
Measuring carbon age in ivory could help combat poaching, study shows
The method uses the "bomb curve," which is Radiocarbbon graph — shaped roughly like an inverted "V" — showing changes in carbon Radipcarbon in the Radiocarbob — and ivorh absorbed by plants and animals in the food chain. The carbon was formed in the atmosphere by U. Those levels peaked in the s and have declined ever since but still are absorbed by and measurable in plant and animal tissues. Ivory Trade Drives Elephant Datng International agreements banned most trade of raw ivory from Asian elephants after and African elephants after In Radiocagbon United States, raw and worked African ivory jewelry, figurines, gun and knife handles is legal if it was imported before or, if worked ivory is imported after, it must be at least years old.
Yet tons of illegal ivory still are sold because dealers claim the ivory was taken before the ban and there has been no test to prove them wrong — until now. Hogle Zoo OnlyAfrican elephants are left. Conservation groups say 70 percent of smuggled ivory goes to China. The United States is the next biggest illegal market. Rising ivory prices have drawn organized crime and spurred militias in Darfur, Uganda, Sudan and Somalia to kill elephants and sell tusks so they can buy guns. How the Study Was Performed Neutrons from the nuclear tests bombarded nitrogen — the atmosphere's most common gas — to turn some of it into carbon Cosmic rays do that naturally at a low level, but open-air nuclear tests in the s and s sharply increased atmospheric, plant and animal carbon levels, followed by a steady decline ever since.
The method in the study is a bit like telling a tree's age by its rings, but instead of counting rings, Cerling, Uno and colleagues measured carbon levels at various points along the lengths of elephants' and hippos' tusks and teeth.
The conventional way Radiocarbon dating ivory measuring carbon is to wait for and count when the isotope decays radioactively. In the study, the researchers used accelerator mass spectrometry, or AMS, which requires 1, times less material for analysis Radiocarbon dating ivory a big advantage when sampling fossils or small pieces of worked ivory, Cerling says. In AMS, the material ivkry analyzed is bombarded with cesium atoms, which sputters off carbon atoms so the ratio of carbon to carbon can Radiocagbon measured. The researchers tested the accuracy of carbon dating ivpry 29 animal and plant tissues killed and collected on known dates from to The samples included elephant tusks and molars, hippo tusks and canine teeth, oryx horn, hair from monkeys and elephant tails, and some grasses collected in Kenya in Most illegal ivory intercepted by law enforcement comes from elephants killed within the past two to three years, the study found, suggesting there are highly developed, organized networks for moving ivory across and out of Africa.
National Geographic spoke with Cerling about his research. Where did the idea to carbon date elephant ivory come from? Our study was different in that we were able to apply this to many samples from seized ivory. Why is this work important? Some groups have suggested that this seized ivory was quite old, stockpiled ivory and therefore might well be legal in terms of international regulations. This method was an obvious way to test this suggestion. It showed that the ivory in the large seizures was, in fact, from quite recently killed elephants.
How exactly will knowing when an elephant died help in the fight to save elephants? It emphasizes that we need to stop the killing now, because the rate of elephant loss is not sustainable.