Radiocarbon dating individual amino acids is not recommended unless necessary as in the case of old bone samples where the presence of even small levels of contaminants produce a large error.
The time-width of any given sample reflects the total growth of the original organism and the span of time that organism interacted with the biosphere.
For most organisms that have bones, the time of their death is contemporaneous with their cessation of exchange with the biosphere.
In theory, both organic and inorganic components can be dated.
However, the open lattice structure of the hydroxyapatite makes it highly contaminated with carbonates from ground water.
Removal of carbonate contaminants through dilute acid washing is also not applicable because hydroxyapatite is acid soluble.
Laboratories use the protein component of bone samples in AMS dating because it is relatively acid insoluble and, therefore, can be easily isolated from the hydroxyapatite component and other carbonates.
In cases when the protein portion of the bone sample is not well preserved and have already degraded due to warm conditions and fungal or bacterial attack, AMS dating labs carbon date individual amino acids to check if several of them give the same radiocarbon age.
This process is doable in AMS dating labs because only small samples are required.
However, this process is costly and time consuming.
Bones are one of the most common materials sent to accelerator mass spectrometry (AMS) labs for radiocarbon dating.
This is because bones of animals or humans are often subjects of archaeological studies.
A lot about the prehistoric era has been learned due to archaeological studies and radiocarbon dating of bones.
More in-depth information about old civilizations is also available due to radiocarbon dating results on bones. The organic portion is protein; the inorganic portion is the mineral hydroxyapatite, which is a combination of calcium phosphate, calcium carbonate, calcium fluoride, calcium hydroxide, and citrate.