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In the case of isotopes, the number of neutrons is variable.

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Gregory This is the first in a series of articles written for those of you who might appreciate a little extra background information on the science behind some of the projects we share with you. In this year’s Spring/Summer Anthro Quest we describe how Getty Grant recipient Thure Cerling is using stable isotope analysis of tooth enamel from fossil primates in order to determine the percentages of C plants in savannah habitats .

Though these projects approach the questions from somewhat different angles, they will undoubtedly help us gain a greater understanding of early hominin diets, behavior and environment.

Remember, in non-ionized atoms the number of negatively charged electrons spinning around the nucleus is equal to the number of positively charged protons in the nucleus.

Typically the number of neutral neutrons in the nucleus is equal to the number of protons.

It takes in the thousands of years for this isotope to decay into a stable nitrogen atom (C remaining in non-living biological material and comparing these numbers to known values of the environment, one can estimate the age of this material.