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Ostrich eggshells are among the most commonly found objects at archeological sites in Africa.
Primitive humans used the eggs as food and the shells for water containers, bowls, and beads. Now archeologists a may find them even more valuable for understanding the history of early humans. A team of paleontologists reported recently in the journal Science that the slow decomposition of proteins in the eggshells can be used to date the archeological sites, particularly in the range of forty thousand to one hundred h thousand years ago – a period for which there are few usable dating ta techniques.
One particular advantage of the new techniques is that it is inexpensive, so that a large number of objects at a site can be dated to determine h whether artifacts from different time periods have been jumbled together by weather, flooding, or excavations – a problem that occurs frequently. In the tropics, the technique can be used to date objects as old as two hundred thousand years. In cooler climates, such as in Russia, it can be used on objects one million years old.
Although ostriches are most common in Africa , ostrich eggs have also been found in Mongolia and Russia and would be useful for dating there. Moreover, the research team has found that every other type of bird egg they have studied go gives similar results, so those types of shells can be used as well They are not beginning to study owl eggs, which are found at many archeological sites in northern Europe.
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