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In Papua New Guinea, lush lagoons and coastal flats began to form, and people started to venture into the new areas.
But with the new ecosystems—and food sources—also came new dangers, which weren’t present at higher elevations.
Now, new applications for the technique are emerging in forensics, thanks to research funded by NIJ and other organizations.
In recent years, forensic scientists have started to apply carbon-14 dating to cases in which law enforcement agencies hope to find out the age of a skeleton or other unidentified human remains.
The researchers found that year-of-death determinations based on nails were accurate to within three years.
The generally poor post-mortem preservation of soft tissues would be a limiting factor to this approach.
However, more testing is needed to confirm that belief. 269, March 2012NCJ 237722 Philip Bulman is a writer and editor at NIJ.
Before the nuclear age, the amount of radiocarbon in the environment varied little in the span of a century.The researchers wanted to find out if they could identify a person's year of birth or year of death using precise measurements of carbon-14 levels in different post-mortem tissues.They measured carbon-14 levels in various tissues from 36 humans whose birth and death dates were known.One of those dangers struck 6,000 years ago, when a powerful tsunami slammed into the Papua New Guinea coast.The marine waters carried tiny shelled creatures called diatoms, pebbles, sand, and at least one human skull.