Abstract

Twenty-four valves of fossil Hiatella arctica were analyzed to determine if amino acid ratios varied from one region of a shell to another. The ratio of D-alloisoleucine/L-isoleucine, routinely used as a stratigraphic correlation tool and an indicator of relative age, did not vary significantly between five anatomically different shell parts in Hiatella arctica. Sampling only the hinge or central part of all valves, however, resulted in less variation about the average value. Analyses of only this part of the shell should improve the resolution of stratigraphic units by amino acid geochronology. The absolute concentrations of aspartic acid, threonine, serine, glutamic acid, glycine, alanine, valine, alloisoleucine, isoleucine, and leucine (in picomoles/milligram of shell) are significantly higher in the hinge and central part of the shell, whereas the outer growth edge appears to have lower levels of amino acids. This is true in both the FREE and TOTAL hydrolysate fractions. The reasons are not clear; however, the high value may be caused by a thin, protein-rich inner layer lining the valve out to the pallial line and/or differences in the proportion of inorganic carbonate to protein produced in different areas during shell growth. Alternatively, it may suggest leaching of the thinner, more vulnerable part of the shell growth edge.

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