• Radiocarbon Dating of Fossil Eggshell

      Long, Austin; Hendershott, Richard; Martin, P. S. (American Journal of Science, 1983-01-01)
      Controlled feeding experiments demonstrate that the 14C content of the carbonate fraction of fossil avian eggshell should reliably reflect the 14C activity of feed and contemporary atmospheric CO2 regardless of amounts of 14C depleted scratch injested. Consideration of biochemical pathways and exchange rates across lung membranes leads to the possibility that the carbonate fraction may, in some instances, be slightly 14C depleted. 14C dates on eggshell carbonate should require little or no correction. As with marine shell carbonate, normal soil-forming processes may alter the surficial carbon isotopes in eggshell carbonate. 14C dates on the protein fraction should be even more reliable than those on the carbonate fraction, but only if special precautions or separation techniques exclude non-indigenous carbon from the sample. Original protein contents are likely to be too low for conventional 14C dating techniques.