Additionally, characterization of nucleic acids can often be difficult and time-consuming.
Amino racemization dating
They needed scientific data, however, to prove the whales longevity.
Researchers turned to Jeffrey Bada and his colleagues at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography in La Jolla, CA, who are considered experts in the field of racemization analysis.
By conducting aspartic acid racemization measurements using an HPLC/fluorescence detection method, Bada analyzed the bowheads eye lenses to estimate the whales age at the time of death (2).
The eye lens of a bowhead whale is made up of dozens of layers of protein, much like an onion.
According to their findings, no evidence of DNA could be found in samples in which the D/L ratio was higher than 0.08.