Christina Macie Ryder
Grant TypeDissertation Fieldwork Grant
Institutional AffiliationColorado, Boulder, U. of
Grant numberGr. 9927
Approve DateOctober 24, 2019
Project TitleRyder, Christina (Colorado, Boulder, U. of) "Saving old bones: near-infrared spectroscopy to predict collagen yield."
Collagen, the protein component of bone, is used for paleodietary, radiocarbon, and paleoproteomic analyses. However, the rapid and often unpredictable degradation of collagen can result in labs damaging specimens and wasting time and money preparing samples that will not yield meaningful results. Several collagen prescreening techniques are practiced, but these techniques are generally destructive and require transport to a lab. Here, we propose near-infrared spectroscopy to predict the collagen yields of bone in a timely, cost-efficient, and non-destructive manner that can be used by researchers across anthropology. Our preliminary work applies near-infrared spectroscopy to predict collagen preservation in 50 ground bone samples from the Holocene. A partial least squares regression on a calibration subset (n = 25) generated a R2 value of 0.94 in the validation subset (n = 25). The goal of this project is to develop the technique of near-infrared spectroscopy as a prescreening tool for collagen. We will build on this by adding approximately 500 ground and 300 whole bone samples dating from the Holocene to the Upper Paleolithic period. If successful, this technique will give researchers a tool to cherry-pick well-preserved samples and concurrently avoid costly, time-intensive lab analyses for unproductive samples.