Radiocarbon-calibrated amino acid racemization ages from Holocene sand dollars (Peronella peronii)

Matthew A. Kosnik, Quan Hua, Darrell S Kaufman, Michał Kowalewski, Katherine Whitacre

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

2 Scopus citations


Amino acid racemization (AAR) is widely used as a cost-effective method to date molluscs in time-averaging and taphonomic studies, but it has not been attempted for echinoderms despite their paleobiological importance and distinct biomineralization. Here we demonstrate the applicability of AAR geochronology for dating Holocene Peronella peronii (Echinodermata: Echinoidea) collected from Sydney Harbour (Australia). Using standard HPLC methods we determined the extent of AAR in 74 Peronella tests and performed replicate analyses on 23 tests. Replicate analyses from the outer edge of 23 tests spanning the observed range of D/L values yielded median coefficients of variation <4% for Asp, Glu, and Phe D/L values, which is comparable to the analytical precision. Correlations between THAA D/L values across 178 independently prepared subsamples of 74 individuals are also very high (Spearman ρ ≥ 0.95) for these three amino acids. The ages of 20 individuals spanning the observed range of D/L values were determined using 14C analyses, and Bayesian model averaging was used to determine the best AAR age model. Only three models fit to Glu D/L contributed to the final averaged age model. Modeled ages ranged from 14 to 5496 years, and the median 95% confidence interval for the 54 AAR ages was ±29% of the modelled age. In comparison, the median 2σ confidence interval for nine graphite target 14C ages was ±8% of the median age estimate and the median 2σ confidence interval for 20 carbonate target 14C ages was ±26% of the median age estimate. Overall Peronella yield high-quality D/L values and appear to be a good target for AAR geochronology.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)174-188
Number of pages15
JournalQuaternary Geochronology
StatePublished - Apr 1 2017


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geology
  • Stratigraphy
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)

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