The elemental composition was investigated and applied for identifying the sex and habitat of dugongs, in addition to distinguishing dugong tusks and teeth from other animal wildlife materials such as Asian elephant (Elephas maximus) tusks and tiger (Panthera tigris tigris) canine teeth. A total of 43 dugong tusks, 60 dugong teeth, 40 dolphin teeth, 1 whale tooth, 40 Asian elephant tusks and 20 tiger canine teeth were included in the study. Elemental analyses were conducted using a handheld X-ray fluorescence analyzer (HH-XRF). There was no significant difference in the elemental composition of male and female dugong tusks, whereas the overall accuracy for identifying habitat (the Andaman Sea and the Gulf of Thailand) was high (88.1%). Dolphin teeth were able to be correctly predicted 100% of the time. Furthermore, we demonstrated a discrepancy in elemental composition among dugong tusks, Asian elephant tusks and tiger canine teeth, and provided a high correct prediction rate among these species of 98.2%. Here, we demonstrate the feasible use of HH-XRF for preliminary species classification and habitat determination prior to using more advanced techniques such as molecular biology.
Korakot Nganvongpanit , Kittisak Buddhachat , Promporn Piboon , Thippaporn Euppayo , Patcharaporn Kaewmong , Phaothep Cherdsukjai , Kongkiat Kittiwatanawong Chatchote Thitaram