Initially, radiocarbon dating by bomb 14C was used to check vintages of wine and whisky and to estimate the turnover times of carbon in various biological tissues. However, this technique has never been widely used for routine dating, although it has a wide field of application in geriatric medicine and forensic investigations. Fifteen years' experience in this field has shown the potential and limits of this technique. Taking into account the decisive biological factors, such as growth and aging, a complicated picture is obtained. Recent human bones cannot be dated with a constant precision. Despite an incomplete understanding of the process of incorporation of 14C into human bones, the present dating technique is still more precise than most estimates by geriatric experts, for conventional 14C dating follows that 14C dates of bone collagen represent the years of the termination of puberty rather than those of death.
Another application is the identification of furs of illegally hunted animals on the “Red List of threatened species” of the World Conservation Union (IUCN). For court cases, the year the animals were killed must be precisely determined. Due to the long and variable turnover time of more than one year of leather hair is the best dating material for animals.
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