Small differences in the average weight of common elements occur naturally in the environment.
Elemental signatures are locked into our bones, teeth, and hair as they grow, reflecting the environment we live in.
When remains of service members are returned to the USA, this information can help establish their identity.
You can help
By filling a bottle or sharing extracted teeth, you can help us map these chemical signatures to make IDs.
Our teeth grow early in life, and as they form they record the isotope chemistry of the environment we live in. This record isn't a perfect copy, but more like a code. Healthy teeth preserve these signatures in their enamel throughout life. If researchers understand how the local isotope signatures are recorded in the enamel...how to 'decode' the signals...they can use isotope values measured in teeth to learn where an individual lived as a child.
Project FIND-EM is developing a database that will allow scientists to break the enamel isotope code. Over the next 3 years we will be working with individuals, dentists, and dental schools to gather thousands of teeth extracted during routine dental work. Together with these teeth, we will collect basic information on the life history of the donors, providing the 'key' needed to unlock the isotope code.
If you saved your wisdom teeth or are planning to have them extracted, please consider getting in touch and donating them in support of the project!
Salt Lake City, USA
If you are interested in providing samples in support of project FIND-EM please let us know where you are located and which of our sample types you could collect.