The Element Strontium Can Tell Scientists Where You've Lived

The Element Strontium Can Tell Scientists Where You've Lived

A couple of teeth are all scientists need to determine where you've lived for, say, the first twenty years of your life. Once scientists have the teeth, they will measure the amount of an element called strontium is in them. The strontium in the soil of the places you've lived eventually gets into your body, and stays in your teeth. The geology of different regions have different ratios of strontium-86 and strontium-87, which is how a scientist could theoretically find out where you've lived. This is a process very helpful to anthropologists who look at strontium to figure out what the lives of ancient humans may have been like.

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Key Facts In This Video

  • 1

    Measuring the amount of strontium in ancient skeletons helps anthropologists learn about their lives. (0:33)

  • 2

    Most strontium doesn't start out as strontium, but rather is the product of when rubidium decays. (1:14)

  • 3

    When your body makes new teeth throughout childhood, it will sometimes incorporate strontium instead of calcium. (1:55)

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