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Zinc isotope variations in archeological human teeth (Lapa do Santo, Brazil) reveal dietary transitions in childhood and no contamination from gloves

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Jaouen,  Klervia
Department of Human Evolution, Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, Max Planck Society;

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Trost,  Manuel
Department of Human Evolution, Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, Max Planck Society;

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Bourgon,  Nicolas
Department of Human Evolution, Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, Max Planck Society;
The Leipzig School of Human Origins (IMPRS), Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, Max Planck Society;

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Le Cabec,  Adeline
Department of Human Evolution, Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, Max Planck Society;

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Steinbrenner,  Sven
Department of Human Evolution, Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, Max Planck Society;

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Jaouen_Zinc_PLoSOne_Suppl_2020.zip
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Citation

Jaouen, K., Trost, M., Bourgon, N., Colleter, R., Le Cabec, A., Tütken, T., et al. (2020). Zinc isotope variations in archeological human teeth (Lapa do Santo, Brazil) reveal dietary transitions in childhood and no contamination from gloves. PLOS ONE, 15(5). doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0232379.


Cite as: http://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-0006-9160-9
Abstract
Zinc (Zn) isotope ratios of dental enamel are a promising tracer for dietary reconstruction in archeology, but its use is still in its infancy. A recent study demonstrated a high risk of Zn contamination from nitrile, and latex gloves used during chemical sample preparation. Here we assess the potential impact of the use of such gloves during enamel sampling on the Zn isotope composition of teeth from a population of early Holocene hunter gatherers from Lapa do Santo, Lagoa Santa, Minas Gerais, Brazil. We first examined the amount of Zn and its isotopic composition released from the gloves used in this study by soaking them in weak nitric acid and water. We compared Zn isotope ratios obtained from teeth that were sampled wearing nitrile, latex or no gloves. Finally, we performed a linear mixed model (LMM) to investigate post hoc the relationship between the gloves used for sampling and the Zn isotope variability in dental enamel. We found that the gloves used in this study released a similar amount of Zn compared to previous work, but only in acidic solution. Zn isotope ratios of teeth and the LMM identified no sign of significant Zn coming from the gloves when teeth were handled for enamel sampling. We hypothesize that Zn in gloves is mostly released by contact with acids. We found that the main source of Zn isotope variability in the Lapa do Santo population was related to the developmental stage of the tooth tissues sampled. We report identical results for two individuals coming from a different archeological context. Tooth enamel formed in utero and/or during the two first years of life showed higher Zn isotope ratios than enamel formed after weaning. More work is required to systematically investigate if Zn isotopes can be used as a breastfeeding tracer.