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Teeth have several advantages over other tissues because they do not remodel themselves like bones, nor abrade as quickly as claws or baleen (Hohn 2002).
In addition, teeth are found in a wide range of marine mammals and are relatively easy to collect, store, and process for estimating age.
These inter-laboratory comparisons demonstrate that D/L aspartic acid measurements are highly reproducible, whereas the enantiomeric measurements for the other amino acids show a wide variation between the three laboratories.
At present, aspartic acid measurements are the most suitable for racemization dating of bone because of their superior analytical precision.
However, only a small change in marine radiocarbon ages occurs over this period (from AD 1700 to 1950, radiocarbon ages become only 100 yr younger). Furthermore, there is an uncertainty in the amount of the correction for the reservoir effect, the apparent radiocarbon age of modern marine carbon (typically ~400yr), which reflects the average residence time of carbon in the oceans.
Analyses done on land snails from deposits in the Negev Desert, eolianites in Madeira, cave deposits in Jamaica and from museum collections indicate racemization rates of 2–5% per century.
About 20 different kinds of amino acids are found in proteins.
Each amino acid has two chemical groups, an amino group and a carboxyl group, which can form chemical bonds with other amino acids.
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