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Spermaceti is a waxy substance found in the head cavities of sperm whales (Physeter macrocephalus and P. catodon). This substance had a variety of commercial applications from the end of the 18th to the beginning of the 20th century, such as candles, soap, cosmetics and other compounds. Spermaceti was also occasionally used as wax for modeling sculptures. In order to date such artworks the marine reservoir effect (MRE) has to be considered. The chemical library of the Muséum national d’Histoire naturelle (Paris, France) contains samples of spermaceti studied by the French chemist M. E. Chevreul (1786–1889) at the beginning of the 19th century. Eight samples of substances preserved in their original containers were 14C dated. According to the whaling practices and the publications of Chevreul, we estimated that the spermaceti samples came from whales caught between 1805 and 1815. AMS 14C dating results are from 550 to 1180 ± 30 BP, R values between 393 and 1023 (± 34) 14C yr and ΔR between –168 and 504 (± 60) 14C yr. The values presented here are the first ever obtained for spermaceti. However, being based on museum specimens, further measurements on crude material would be necessary to refine these results.
Children with CHD are at increased risk for neurodevelopmental impairments. There is little information on long-term motor function and its association with behaviour.
To assess motor function and behaviour in a cohort of 10-year-old children with CHD after cardiopulmonary bypass surgery.
Motor performance and movement quality were examined in 129 children with CHD using the Zurich Neuromotor Assessment providing four timed and one qualitative component, and a total timed motor score was created based on the four timed components. The Beery Test of Visual–Motor Integration and the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire were administered.
All Zurich Neuromotor Assessment motor tasks were below normative values (all p ≤ 0.001), and the prevalence of poor motor performance (≤10th percentile) ranged from 22.2% to 61.3% in the different components. Visuomotor integration and motor coordination were poorer compared to norms (all p ≤ 0.001). 14% of all analysed children had motor therapy at the age of 10 years. Children with a total motor score ≤10th percentile showed more internalising (p = 0.002) and externalising (p = 0.028) behavioural problems.
School-aged children with CHD show impairments in a variety of motor domains which are related to behavioural problems. Our findings emphasise that motor problems can persist into school-age and require detailed assessment and support.
The direct dating of rock paintings is not always possible due to the lack of organic carbon compounds in pigments, or because sampling from a heritage site is often restricted. To overcome these limitations, dating laboratories have to develop new approaches. In this study, we consider sampling calcium oxalate crusts covering the painted artworks as a way to indirectly date the rock art. This stratigraphic approach includes isolating and extracting pure oxalate from the crusts. The approach was tested on natural bulk accretions collected in the open-air sites of Erongo Mountains in Namibia. The accretions were separated into two phases (pure oxalate and the remaining residues) with a special pretreatment. This process removes carbonates through acidification (HCl 6N) and dissolves the oxalate into the supernatant, leaving the minerals and windblown organic compounds in the residue. The efficiency of the separation was checked on the two phases by FTIR analyses and by 14C dating and showed that pure oxalate powders were indeed obtained. AMS radiocarbon results of various accretions on the same art panels provided ages from modern periods to 2410 ± 35 BP. From these first results, more targeted sampling campaigns can be considered to provide a terminus ante quem for the rock art.
Quality control procedures have been developed at the Laboratoire de Mesure du Carbone 14 (LMC14) national laboratory throughout the years of operation. Routine procedures are applied to sample preparation depending on their composition and their size. The tuning of the ARTEMIS AMS facility, hosted by the LMC14 laboratory, uses an accurate procedure. A batch of unknown samples is measured with accompanying samples (primary and secondary standards and blanks), which give a powerful set of data to control the quality of each measurement. A homemade database has been created to store the sample information and study the evolution of the accompanying samples. The LMC14 laboratory participated in the Sixth International Radiocarbon Intercomparison, SIRI. The results are presented here, with statistical tests to assess the quality of the preparations and measurements done at the LMC14 national laboratory. To obtain a reliable radiocarbon (14C) age by AMS, 1 mg of sample is required in routine analysis. Recently, the LMC14 developed a new procedure dedicated to microsamples, allowing the size of samples to be reduced and contributing to opening 14C dating to materials that were previously unreachable. This new procedure has been successfully tested on valuable Cultural Heritage samples: lead white mural paintings.
Lead carbonates were used as cosmetic and pigment since Antiquity. The pigment, known as lead white, was generally composed of cerussite and hydrocerussite. Unlike most ancient pigments, lead white was obtained by a synthetic route involving metallic lead, vinegar and organic matter. Fermentation of organic matter produces heat and CO2 emission, leading to the formation of carbonates. As lead white is formed by trapping CO2, radiocarbon (14C) dating can thus be considered. We have developed a protocol to prepare lead white. We selected modern pigments for the experiment implementation and ancient cosmetic and paintings for dating. After characterization of the samples by XRD, thermal decomposition of cerussite at various temperatures was explored in order to select the appropriate conditions for painting samples. CO2 extraction yield, SEM and XPS were used to characterize the process. Thermal decomposition at 400°C was successfully applied to mixtures of lead white with other paint components (oil as binder, calcite as filler/extender) and to historical samples. We obtained radiocarbon measurements in agreement with the expected dates, demonstrating that thermal decomposition at 400°C is efficient for a selective decomposition of lead white and that paintings can be directly 14C-dated by dating lead white pigment.
Little is known about health-related quality of life in young children undergoing staged palliation for single-ventricle CHD. The aim of this study was to assess the impact of CHD on daily life in pre-schoolers with single-ventricle CHD and to identify determinants of health-related quality of life.
Prospective two-centre cohort study assessing health-related quality of life using the Preschool Paediatric Cardiac Quality of Life Inventory in 46 children at a mean age of 38 months and 3 weeks. Children with genetic anomalies were excluded. Scores were compared with reference data of children with biventricular CHD. Multiple linear regression analysis was used to identify determinants of health-related quality of life.
Health-related quality of life in pre-schoolers with single-ventricle CHD was comparable to children with biventricular CHD. Preterm birth and perioperative variables were significant predictors of low health-related quality of life. Notably, pre-Fontan brain MRI findings and neurodevelopmental status were not associated with health-related quality of life. Overall, perioperative variables explained 24% of the variability of the total health-related quality of life score.
Despite substantial health-related burden, pre-schoolers with single-ventricle CHD showed good health-related quality of life. Less-modifiable treatment-related risk factors and preterm birth had the highest impact on health-related quality of life. Long-term follow-up assessment of self-reported health-related quality of life is needed to identify patients with poorer health-related quality of life and to initiate supportive care.
The ecology and forest management of tropical montane cloud forests of the Neotropics have attracted little scientific attention so far, and understanding of the ecosystem is still fragmentary (Churchill et al. 1995). The montane forests of southern Ecuador are an outstanding biodiversity hotspot for vascular plants (Barthlott et al. 1996), including a multitude of tree species (Madsen & Øllgard 1994). However, identification of species, studies of phenology, productivity, seed production and growth of seedlings have only just begun (Homeier & Breckle 2002). None of the trees has been investigated with respect to their mycorrhizal status, although it is well established that mycorrhizal symbioses are not only important for survival of trees in nutrient-poor habitats (Read 1991) and play a key role for nutrient cycling and nutrient retention in the humus layers (Medina & Cuevas 1993, Rilling et al. 2001), but also have an important impact on the composition of plant communities (Allen et al. 1995, Kottke 2002, van der Heijden et al. 1998).
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