Pleistocene geochronology and palaeothermometry from protein diagenesis in ostrich eggshells: implications for the evolution of modern humans

G. H. Miller, P. B. Beaumont, A. J T Jull, B. Johnson

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

48 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Proteinaceous residues incorporated within the crystal structure of ostrich eggshells (OES) are retained without loss over geological time exceeding 10 million years. Degradation of the polypeptides, including hydrolysis of smaller peptide fragments and eventual release of free amino acids, decomposition, and racemization and epimerization occur at regular, predictable rates dependent on ambient temperature. The extent of isoleucine epimerization (aIle/Ile ratio) in OES follows linear first-order reversible kinetics in controlled-temperature laboratory simulations of time up to an aIle/Ile ratio in excess of 1.0. The hydrolysis of leucine also follows a predictable pattern, but deviates from first-order kinetics. A non-linear mathematical model has been developed that adequately describes the pattern of leucine hydrolysis through a wide temperature range. The ages of levels at Border Cave, South Africa, from which anatomically modern human skeletal remains have been recovered, are dated by the extent of isoleucine epimerization in associated OES. -from Authors

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationPhilosophical Transactions - Royal Society of London, B
Pages149-157
Number of pages9
Volume337
Edition1280
StatePublished - 1992
Externally publishedYes

Fingerprint

Struthioniformes
Egg Shell
eggshell
ostriches
egg shell
geochronology
diagenesis
hydrolysis
Hydrolysis
Isoleucine
Pleistocene
isoleucine
Leucine
leucine
Temperature
protein
racemization
skeletal remains
kinetics
Peptide Fragments

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Earth and Planetary Sciences(all)
  • Environmental Science(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences (miscellaneous)

Cite this

Miller, G. H., Beaumont, P. B., Jull, A. J. T., & Johnson, B. (1992). Pleistocene geochronology and palaeothermometry from protein diagenesis in ostrich eggshells: implications for the evolution of modern humans. In Philosophical Transactions - Royal Society of London, B (1280 ed., Vol. 337, pp. 149-157)

Pleistocene geochronology and palaeothermometry from protein diagenesis in ostrich eggshells : implications for the evolution of modern humans. / Miller, G. H.; Beaumont, P. B.; Jull, A. J T; Johnson, B.

Philosophical Transactions - Royal Society of London, B. Vol. 337 1280. ed. 1992. p. 149-157.

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

Miller, GH, Beaumont, PB, Jull, AJT & Johnson, B 1992, Pleistocene geochronology and palaeothermometry from protein diagenesis in ostrich eggshells: implications for the evolution of modern humans. in Philosophical Transactions - Royal Society of London, B. 1280 edn, vol. 337, pp. 149-157.
Miller GH, Beaumont PB, Jull AJT, Johnson B. Pleistocene geochronology and palaeothermometry from protein diagenesis in ostrich eggshells: implications for the evolution of modern humans. In Philosophical Transactions - Royal Society of London, B. 1280 ed. Vol. 337. 1992. p. 149-157
Miller, G. H. ; Beaumont, P. B. ; Jull, A. J T ; Johnson, B. / Pleistocene geochronology and palaeothermometry from protein diagenesis in ostrich eggshells : implications for the evolution of modern humans. Philosophical Transactions - Royal Society of London, B. Vol. 337 1280. ed. 1992. pp. 149-157
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