The age of ambergris.
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Ambergris, which is a coprolith originating from the sperm whale, has been found only rarely, but for centuries, as jetsam on beaches all over the world. There are no reliable data indicating how long such samples may have remained at sea, with unsubstantiated accounts suggesting maybe decades. Here, we obtained over forty jetsam samples, many collected on known dates, from mostly known beach locations across the globe. Such an inventory of verified jetsam ambergris is unprecedented. Each sample was characterised by analytical methods such as gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC-MS). We then determined the radiocarbon ages of some of the samples by well-described accelerator-MS techniques. Surprisingly, some samples of jetsam have remained in the environment for about a thousand years.
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