Carbon from nuclear testing can help find ivory poachers

07/1/2013 | BBC

Scientists say that carbon in the atmosphere left from Cold War nuclear testing can be used to trace and date poached ivory elephant tusks, according to a study. The findings address a rise in ivory poaching and scientists found that examining the concentration of radiocarbon in small samples of tissue can accurately determine the year an animal died, between 1955 and present day. Between 1952 and 1962, the amount of radiocarbon in the atmosphere doubled before nuclear tests were restricted to underground. "Poached ivory makes it to market relatively quickly, so by measuring the age of a tusk we can say what year it's from. This will help us pinpoint the source of the ivory and how it's getting to market," said lead author Kevin Uno.

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