Carbon dating the iceman
And every living (or once-living) thing – whether it’s your lunch, your goldfish, or your bones – contains atoms of carbon.Even the air we breathe contains carbon atoms, bound up in carbon dioxide gas.“He carried a more pure strain, an unmixed strain, and we can say that the history of Richard Green, a professor of evolutionary genetics at the University of California, Santa Cruz, who was unaffiliated with the paper, said that a previously unknown wave of African migration is a feasible explanation, even if it’s far from a certain one. “Something needs to account for the large turnover in the prevalent haplotypes of .”The findings may also offer clues as to how the bacteria evolves over time: “We don't really have a great evolutionary model for how these strains are evolving and how they come to be recombinated, what kinds of interactions must occur to make different strains,” Green said.“It's likely that we will learn more about that as time goes on, and this is a great data point to have."Scientists can only plumb so much from Otzi’s shriveled body, though, and a greater understanding of who moved where in prehistoric times will likely require more Icemen, with their own gut bacteria and other clues.“We don't know if Otzi was representative of all the folks in Europe at that time, or if he was a lone member of an isolated band of people that was genetically distinct," Green said.“It'd be great if we had a hundred Otzis all over Europe, but all we have is the one.”But these hypothetical yet-to-be-discovered Icemen may be in short supply, as the field of archaeology begins feeling the effects of climate change more acutely.When this happens, they “disappear”, decaying into nitrogen atoms instead.
“He was almost perfectly preserved,” says Dr Fallon. “They were able to date food in his stomach, and the grass his shoes were made from.” C ratio in your body is the same as in the air.
With a sample size of just one, it’s hard to draw any firm conclusions about what this means, but the authors offer one possibility: that a mass migration from Africa to Europe took place sometime in the millennia between Otzi’s death and the present day.“Until now, it was believed that this mixed strain was already present during the Neolithic [period], so the [first] farmers brought this mixed strain to Europe.
And now we saw in the Iceman that it was not like this,” Frank Maixner, the lead author and a researcher at the Institute for Mummies and the Iceman at Italy’s European Research Academy, said in a video accompanying the paper.
For example, the nuclear weapons tests that happened from 1955 to 1963 temporarily doubled carbon-14 levels.
On the other hand, burning fossil fuels releases loads of carbon, but hardly any of it is carbon-14.