Mineralized tissues accumulate elements that play crucial roles in animal health. Although elemental content of bone, blood and teeth of human and some animal species have been characterized, data for many others are lacking, as well as species comparisons. Here we describe the distribution of elements in horn (Bovidae), antler (Cervidae), teeth and bone (humerus) across a number of species determined by handheld X-ray fluorescence (XRF) to better understand differences and potential biological relevance. A difference in elemental profiles between horns and antlers was observed, possibly due to the outer layer of horns being comprised of keratin, whereas antlers are true bone. Species differences in tissue elemental content may be intrinsic, but also related to feeding habits that contribute to mineral accumulation, particularly for toxic heavy metals. One significant finding was a higher level of iron (Fe) in the humerus bone of elephants compared to other species. This may be an adaptation of the hematopoietic system by distributing Fe throughout the bone rather than the marrow, as elephant humerus lacks a marrow cavity. We also conducted discriminant analysis and found XRF was capable of distinguishing samples from different species, with humerus bone being the best source for species discrimination. For example, we found a 79.2%correct prediction and success rate of 80% for classification between human and non-human humerus bone. These findings show that handheld XRF can serve as an effective tool for the biological study of elemental composition in mineralized tissue samples and may have a forensic application.
Kittisak Buddhachat , Sarisa Klinhom , Puntita Siengdee , Janine L. Brown , Raksiri Nomsiri , Patcharaporn Kaewmong , Chatchote Thitaram , Pasuk Mahakkanukrauh , Korakot Nganvongpanit
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