Isotope Analysis

Thomas Clarke (
1 Jul 1996 13:26:43 GMT

Does anyone perform isotope analysis of hominid fossils?

I recently read an article in _Nature_ discussing how
O16/O18 ratios in whales teeth were being using to help
resolve the issue of the point in whale evolution when the
animals became independent of freshwater. It seems that
freshwater and seawater have different O18 contents
(I think due to differential evaporation rates, isotope
ratios in ice cores have climatic implications).
so that the teeth which are in isotopic equilibrium with body
fluids can indicate when fresh water ingestion stopped in
the fossil record.

It seems to me that similar analysis might me useful in
determining hominid diet shiftss. Other markers might
be useful - fluorine?

Tom Clarke