Using proteomic-based approaches, researchers from the University of Copenhagen have been able to glean from what species the material used to make a 6,000-year-old ring came. This field of paleoproteomics is changing the fields of archaeology, paleoanthropology, and paleontology, Discover magazine writes.
In this instance, Copenhagen's Hannes Schroeder and his colleagues analyzed a ring that had been found among other artifacts on a Danish island — the ring's appearance suggested it had rarely been worn or broke while it was being made. In particular, they turned to micro-computed tomography scanning, zooarchaeology by mass spectrometry (ZooMS) peptide mass fingerprinting, and protein sequencing by liquid chromatography tandem mass spectrometry. As reported in Royal Society Open Science, ZooMS could not differentiate between collagen from elk, Alces alces, or red deer, Cervus elaphus, but LC-MS/MS analysis indicated the ring was made from C. elaphus materials.
This, Discover notes, is just one of many recent paleoproteomic studies: researchers have also studied proteins from the teeth of Gigantopithecus and a jawbone found in Tibet from a Denisovan.