Cara and Rachel spent a few days last week and this running samples for collagen fingerprinting from some of the material we are dating and analysing for human and animal bone material. Preparing samples, especially for the screening approach for identifying human fragments, is slow and time-consuming work. By comparison the actual lab prep and mass spectrometry is much faster.
All of the bones AMS dated as part of PalaeoChron are being identified to species using ZooMS. They are already carefully identified as being humanly modified (cut, or humanly-broken), but in many cases the bone for dating is too small to be properly identified, so ZooMS is very important in this area and will help us to place the results we get into a proper stable isotopic framework too.
Cara is screening bones from some of our sites for human bone identification, in the wake of our success in this area last year at Denisova Cave.
The work in collagen fingerprinting is done in collaboration with PalaeoChron member Mike Buckley and his group at the University of Manchester. Cara (above left) and Rachel (right) will have several hundred identified animal and human peptide sequences that will allow genus/species to be confirmed on all of their samples in a few days time.
Both Cara (left) and Rachel (below) worked with PalaeoChron team member Mike Buckley and his group at the University of Manchester.