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The following are quotes added to my Unclassified Quotes database in September 2007. The date format is dd/mm/yy. See copyright conditions at end.
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14/09/2007 "THE FOUR ASSUMPTIONS OF THE RADIOCARBON METHOD (1) The half-life of radiocarbon. The half-life of radiocarbon is an invariant constant of nature. Unfortunately, however, it is not a constant which can be calculated from first principles: it has to be measured in the laboratory. Consequently like all measurements it is subject to error. For this reason it has turned out to be, in practice, a somewhat variable constant! But the variation in the value accepted arises solely from these problems of measurement: it does not shake the view that carbon-14 has a single, fixed half-life, however difficult it may be to measure accurately." (Renfrew, C., "Before Civilization: The Radiocarbon Revolution and Prehistoric Europe," , Penguin: Harmondsworth UK, Reprinted, 1976, pp.286-287. Emphasis original) 14/09/2007 "(2) Absence of contamination. The second fundamental assumption of the methods is that the sample has not been contaminated, since its death, with older or more recent material, whose isotopic composition would be different. ... There is always the risk that older carbon may penetrate the sample and dilute its radioactivity. More recent material - rootlets, or fungus growing on the sample - may add radiocarbon of recent origin, and make the sample appear deceptively young. Laboratory cleaning - a `laundry job' - can sometimes ' eliminate such contamination." (Renfrew, C., "Before Civilization: The Radiocarbon Revolution and Prehistoric Europe," , Penguin: Harmondsworth UK, Reprinted, 1976, pp.288-289. Emphasis original) 14/09/2007 "(3) Uniform world-wide distribution of radiocarbon. The assumption that the atmospheric level of radiocarbon is the same at a given time all over the world - Libby's principle of simultaneity - is not entirely correct, but recent work has nonetheless established that fluctuations with latitude or longitude are small. ... An equally important question is whether all living plant and animal species do, in fact, contain the same proportion of radiocarbon to ordinary carbon-12 as does the atmosphere. Again the basic assumption is that they do, and again it is nearly but not exactly true in practice. One possibility is that plants living on calcareous soil might take up carbon from the calcium carbonate, which would be very low in radiocarbon. This does not appear to be a serious problem for plants, which take up their carbon by photosynthesis, but is more troublesome with shells. It is particularly acute for freshwater shells, where some of their material may originate from mineral carbonate in hard water. For this reason, freshwater molluscs are not generally considered ideally suitable material for reliable radiocarbon dating." (Renfrew, C., "Before Civilization: The Radiocarbon Revolution and Prehistoric Europe," , Penguin: Harmondsworth UK, Reprinted, 1976, pp.290-291. Emphasis original) 14/09/2007 "Plants and molluscs present a further problem. It was stated earlier that radiocarbon behaves chemically in precisely the same way as the stable isotopes of carbon, carbon-12 and carbon-13. In practice, however, just a little `isotopic fractionation' does occur in the process of photosynthesis - that is to say, some plants do show a small but definite disinclination to take up the slightly heavier carbon-14 from the atmosphere; consequently they have a slightly lower proportion of radiocarbon than the atmosphere. The error in the date caused by his effect is, however, small - usually not more than 80 years. And fortunately a correction can be made by considering also the isotopic fractionation of carbon-13. The proportion of carbon-13 in the sample is determined by mass spectrometer, and any variation from the normal level is noted. It is possible, then, to estimate and allow for the effects of the fractionation process on carbon-14. These minor effects have all to be considered with care. But, as we have seen, none of them seriously affects the validity or the accuracy of the radiocarbon method." (Renfrew, C., "Before Civilization: The Radiocarbon Revolution and Prehistoric Europe," , Penguin: Harmondsworth UK, Reprinted, 1976, p.291) 14/09/2007 "(4) Variation in the atmospheric concentration of radiocarbon with time. The radiocarbon dating method originally made the important assumption that the proportion of radiocarbon to ordinary carbon-12 in the atmosphere has remained constant through time. This absence of secular variation of atmospheric radiocarbon seemed a reasonable assumption in 1949. The effects of cosmic radiation were not thought to have varied, and the only obvious change was the increase in the volume of the oceans as the ice caps retreated at the end of the last glaciation. This might have altered the balance of distribution of carbon dioxide in the earth's existing reservoir." (Renfrew, C., "Before Civilization: The Radiocarbon Revolution and Prehistoric Europe," , Penguin: Harmondsworth UK, Reprinted, 1976, pp.291-292. Emphasis original) 14/09/2007 "It is now known, however, that the proportion of radiocarbon to ordinary carbon-12 has not remained precisely constant through time, and that before about 1000 B.C. the deviations are so great as to make radiocarbon dates significantly in error." (Renfrew, C., "Before Civilization: The Radiocarbon Revolution and Prehistoric Europe," , Penguin: Harmondsworth UK, Reprinted, 1976, p.294) 15/09/2007 "Contamination One of the fundamental assumptions of radiocarbon dating is that no process other than radioactive decay has altered the level of 14C in a sample since its removal from the biosphere. Any addition of a carbon-containing material is contamination, and it must be removed before the dating process begins otherwise a false result will be obtained. For example, calcium carbonate such as limestone can dissolve in ground water and then be deposited within a sample. Limestone, being of geological origin, has an age greatly in excess of any archaeological samples. Similarly, humic acids from burial soil can contaminate a sample, but whether the apparent result is too young or too old depends on the origin of the humic acids. Thus once a sample is accepted for dating, the first task in the laboratory is pretreatment, that is, removal of any likely sources of contamination." (Bowman, S., "Radiocarbon Dating," Interpreting the Past, University of California Press: Berkeley CA, 1990, p.27. Emphasis original) 15/09/2007 "Given the errors that can arise, clearly the wisest course of action is to avoid any additional contamination in the collection, field conservation and packing of samples, particularly since some contaminants are actually impossible to remove (for example, animal glue if used on bone is chemically identical to the sample). Biocides, conservation chemicals (such as polyvinyl acetate and polyethylene glycol), cigarette ash, paper labels and wrapping paper are all sources of carbon and hence are potential contaminants." (Bowman, S., "Radiocarbon Dating," Interpreting the Past, University of California Press: Berkeley CA, 1990, p.28) 15/09/2007 "Pretreatment Some of the more commonly dated materials can now be considered, together with the ways in which their structure influences the way they are pretreated. The pretreatment procedure is not a fixed recipe; it is adapted as necessary to the environmental conditions and preservation of the sample. Samples are always visually examined and rootlets are removed before any chemical pretreatment. In some samples this can be difficult since the rootlets may not be readily distinguishable from the sample. This is particularly true for peat samples that have been dried." (Bowman, S., "Radiocarbon Dating," Interpreting the Past, University of California Press: Berkeley CA, 1990, p.28. Emphasis original) 15/09/2007 "Collecting and packaging of samples It is important not to introduce any contamination when collecting and packing the sample. If flotation is used in the collection process, no hydrocarbons should be used. Hydrogen peroxide can, however, be used to break up soil samples. Many materials used for preserving or conserving samples contain carbon that may be impossible to remove subsequently: do not use glues, biocides, polyethylene glycol (PEG) or polyvinylacetate (PVA). Many ordinary packing materials, such as paper, cardboard, cotton wool and string, contain carbon and are potential contaminants. Cigarette ash is also taboo." (Bowman, S., "Radiocarbon Dating," Interpreting the Past, University of California Press: Berkeley CA, 1990, pp.55-56. Emphasis original) 16/09/2007 "The initial approach to work on the case had come from a fellow student who was already involved. Then the police had contacted me. Could I tell the difference between pollen from one plant species and that of another closely related species? From a professional point of view my answer to this was quite simple. All things being equal ...yes, in most instances, I can." (Milne, L., "A Grain of Truth: How Pollen Brought a Murderer to Justice," New Holland: Frenchs Forest NSW, Australia, 2005, p.9) 17/09/2007 "Crime-scene examiners work on the premise of Locard's Exchange Principle. Dr Edmond Locard established the world's first crime laboratory, the Technical Police Laboratory in Lyons, France, in 1910. He was also the first person to mention pollen as a likely source of physical evidence. Locard believed that whenever two objects (or people) come into contact, there is a cross-transfer of material. Examination of this material could reveal an association between a suspect and a location or a victim. After studying the dust on clothing and how it is transferred to other articles, Locard reported that `The microscopic dusts which cover our clothes and our bodies are silent yet certain and reliable witnesses of each of our actions and contacts'. [Locard, E., "Dust and its analysis," Police Journal, Vol. 1, 1928, pp.177-192, p.177] In other words, a person who commits a crime will leave something at the scene or take something away from the scene. The `something' may be relatively obvious, such as personal belongings or impressions of shoes or tools, or it may be trace evidence that can only be seen with a microscope or by using special forensic techniques and tools." (Milne, L., "A Grain of Truth: How Pollen Brought a Murderer to Justice," New Holland: Frenchs Forest NSW, Australia, 2005, pp.32-33) 17/09/2007 "The study of the structural features of pollen, known as pollen morphology, is a science in itself. Like other sciences, it has special terminology that is used worldwide. This ensures that all palynologists describe and identify pollen the same way-well that's the theory. The ability to recognise small physical differences in pollen from closely related species is essential in forensic pollen analysis. However, this ability is only one of the many skills forensic palynologists need. They must also be able to interpret pollen samples. For example, they need to be able to answstions like: What does the presence and relative frequency of a particular pollen type in a sample mean? Was it carried to the place it finally settled by wind or some other means? Is its parent plant common in the area, or is it rare or absent? In short, to answer these kinds of crucial crime-busting questions, a successful pollen analyst must know all about the birds and the bees-the sex life of plants." (Milne, L., "A Grain of Truth: How Pollen Brought a Murderer to Justice," New Holland: Frenchs Forest NSW, Australia, 2005, p.36) 17/09/2007 "Pollen grains are produced inside the anthers, and each grain contains two male nuclei. Pollen grains are, of course, tiny and invisible to the human eye. Nevertheless, they vary enormously in size and shape and they have exceptionally varied and beautiful adornments. These elaborate displays of maleness are not for attracting females, as in the animal world, but are to assist them to travel in search of a mate." (Milne, L., "A Grain of Truth: How Pollen Brought a Murderer to Justice," New Holland: Frenchs Forest NSW, Australia, 2005, p.40) 17/09/2007 "Catching a ride and not being able to tell the cab driver where you want to go is a very inefficient way of getting around. ... This is the dilemma plants face. To hedge their bets they produce enormous amounts of pollen, so that at least a few grains will get lucky. Unfortunately, most of the boys don't reach their intended destination; instead they end up as part of soil and dust. They fall onto any surface exposed to the air. It serves them right for playing the field, but it is this aspect of the sex life of plants that makes pollen such an excellent forensic tool. In even a small amount of soil or dust there will be hundreds, perhaps thousands of pollen grains that may have come from many different species, and from numerous individuals of each species. Some may have been carried there on the bodies of flower visitors such as small creatures, others may have been light enough to have travelled on the air currents, and other, heavier pollen, will have dropped to the ground from flowers close by." (Milne, L., "A Grain of Truth: How Pollen Brought a Murderer to Justice," New Holland: Frenchs Forest NSW, Australia, 2005, pp.41-42) 17/09/2007 "The total amount and types of pollen found in any one soil or sediment sample is called a pollen assemblage. Palynology would be quite simple if all the pollen in a pollen assemblage came only from plants that grew at the site the sample was collected from. But this is not the case. Pollen assemblages recovered from a soil sample will also contain pollen from plants that grow in nearby areas and disperse their pollen by wind. This mixture of pollen from different places is one of the most important things forensic palynologists must take into account when interpreting a pollen assemblage from an unknown locality. They must also recognise that if a lot of pollen grains from one plant type occur in the assemblage, this does not necessarily mean that a lot of plants of that type grow at that locality." (Milne, L., "A Grain of Truth: How Pollen Brought a Murderer to Justice," New Holland: Frenchs Forest NSW, Australia, 2005, p.42) 17/09/2007 "The method a plant uses to disperse its pollen to effect pollination-the transfer of male cells to female receptive organs-will determine how much pollen it produces. This will, in turn, establish how useful a particular pollen type will be in a forensic investigation. ... The type of pollination ... that is the most interesting is zoogamy (zoo = animal in Greek)-the transport of pollen by insects and small animals. More than half the flowering plants of the world use this method. The anthers and stigma of zoogamous plants commonly mature at different times to guard against self-pollination. Bees, ants, beetles, butterflies, flies and other insects, lizards, birds, bats and other small mammals are unwitting cab drivers as they visit a flower to collect nectar or pollen, then flit onto another flower. As they brush past anthers, pollen sticks to various parts of their bodies and travels with them to the next flower, where it may be brushed onto a mature stigma." (Milne, L., "A Grain of Truth: How Pollen Brought a Murderer to Justice," New Holland: Frenchs Forest NSW, Australia, 2005, p.42) 17/09/2007 "Zoogamous flowers are usually quite conspicuous or decorative and have canny ways of attracting pollinators. Many produce nectar for insects and animals to feed on, and some even have nectar guides, such as dots or lines on the petals, to lead the pollinators to the nectar glands. Some of these markings are only visible to us in ultraviolet light, but are clearly visible to insects in normal sunlight. These special `roads' leading to the nectar glands are strategically positioned so that animals feeding on nectar will inadvertently collect and transport pollen. Mammal-pollinated flowers are often prostrate (lie along the ground) and have strong-smelling nectar, whereas bird-pollinated flowers are large, bright and strong enough to hold a bird's weight. These plants produce large -mounts of nectar during daylight hours to induce the birds to feed upon them." (Milne, L., "A Grain of Truth: How Pollen Brought a Murderer to Justice," New Holland: Frenchs Forest NSW, Australia, 2005, p.43) 17/09/2007 "Zoogamous pollination is relatively reliable, so each anther produces only 100 to 1000 pollen grains. To put this magnitude into perspective, check out how small the anthers are in a daisy or other common flowering plant, and imagine 1000 pollen grains insltiply that by the number of anthers. The total number of pollen grains one flower may produce is staggering." (Milne, L., "A Grain of Truth: How Pollen Brought a Murderer to Justice," New Holland: Frenchs Forest NSW, Australia, 2005, p.43) 17/09/2007 "Zoogamous pollen usually has highly ornamented thick walls that preserve well. The ornamentation is often designed for easy attachment to insect or animal legs or bodies. The forensic potential of pollen from zoogamous plants is excellent. It's heavy, and if it falls to the ground it won't travel far from its parent plant. The distinctive ornamentation and wall structure means that zoogamous pollen can usually be identified to the species level, and sometimes to the actual plant that produced it. If even a small amount of this pollen type is found on a person's clothing, it indicates that they have either brushed past the plant that produced it, or have come in contact with soil near the plant or with an object that has had contact with the soil or plant." (Milne, L., "A Grain of Truth: How Pollen Brought a Murderer to Justice," New Holland: Frenchs Forest NSW, Australia, 2005, p.43) 17/09/2007 "Pollination by wind is the method used by many of the more ancient plants, such as the cone-bearing conifers, cycads and ginkgos, and she-oaks and many forest trees. More recently evolved plants, such as grasses, sedges and saltbushes, also disperse their pollen with the aid of wind. All ferns, mosses and fungi- the spore-producing plants-use wind to disperse their spores. Plants that use this method of pollination are called anemophilous (anemos = wind in Greek). Wind is the least efficient method of pollination, so wind- pollinated plants compensate by producing vast quantities of light, aerodynamic pollen. Individual anthers may produce between 10 000 and 100 000 grains. ... . As very few wind-transported pollen grains reach their intended destination, they are the most common pollen type found in soil and dust. ... Studies conducted in the northern hemisphere show that about 95% of wind-transported pollen will sink to the ground between 25 metres and 2 kilometres from its parent plant. The other 5% will sink somewhere between 2 kilometres and hundreds of kilometres away from its source, some even rising high into the atmosphere in thermals and coming back down to Earth as `seeds' of raindrops." (Milne, L., "A Grain of Truth: How Pollen Brought a Murderer to Justice," New Holland: Frenchs Forest NSW, Australia, 2005, pp.43-44) 17/09/2007 "Most plants seek to transport their pollen to the stigmas of other plants to ensure genetic diversity, but some plants are not averse to keeping it all in the family. These are autogamous plants (auto = self in Greek)that is, they pollinate themselves. To this end the anthers and stigma of a flower mature at the same time. Many self-pollinating flowers have adaptive mechanisms that ensure that their own pollen reaches their own stigma. Others rely on wind and animals to transport their pollen the short distance from their anthers to their stigma. As this is an efficient method of pollination, anthers produce less than 100 pollen grains each. Pollen produced by self-pollinating plants may be fund in soil near the plants, but it will be exceptionally rare in comparison with pollen from plants using other types of pollination. Although rare, if this type of pollen is found in a forensic sample it may be a good indicator of a particular site or vegetation type." (Milne, L., "A Grain of Truth: How Pollen Brought a Murderer to Justice," New Holland: Frenchs Forest NSW, Australia, 2005, pp.44-45) 17/09/2007 "An even more efficient method of plant incest is closed pollination. Among botanists, plants that use this method of pollination are referred to as cleistogamous, a word derived from the Greek word meaning `closed marriage'. cleistogamous plants pollinate themselves without the flowers ever having to open. This saves the plant energy, as it doesn't have to produce conspicuous lowers. Pollen produced by cleistogamous plants is often relatively large, with little surface ornamentation. Getting lucky is a sure bet, so the anthers produce less than 100 pollen grains each. The most common plants that use closed pollination are cereals. " (Milne, L., "A Grain of Truth: How Pollen Brought a Murderer to Justice," New Holland: Frenchs Forest NSW, Australia, 2005, p.45) 17/09/2007 "Most forensic palynology cases involve the comparison of control samples with forensic samples to prove or disprove a relationship between them. For example, if a person is suspected of having committed a crime, the pollen assemblages from soil samples at the crime scene (control samples) will be compared with pollen collected from the suspect's possessions (forensic samples). In most cases, a mixture of pollen types from wind- and animal-pollinated plants provides the incriminating or exonerating evidence." (Milne, L., "A Grain of Truth: How Pollen Brought a Murderer to Justice," New Holland: Frenchs Forest NSW, Australia, 2005, p.45) 17/09/2007 "The success of pollen analysis in the Samantha Hall case depended on my ability to distinguish between pollen from different species of wattle (Acacia). ... my eye for the finer details of pollen morphology had been well honed during the last few years. My PhD thesis was based on pollen morphology and I was fascinated with the symmetry and structure of pollen and its stunning surface patterns. To the untrained eye it's often difficult to distinguish one animal or plant species from another similar species. All elephants have trunks, monkeys have long tails and a rose is a rose. It's the finer structural details of a living organism that identify it to the smallest unit of classification, the species. Reproductive structures, including pollen, are important characteristics in plant classification." (Milne, L., "A Grain of Truth: How Pollen Brought a Murderer to Justice," New Holland: Frenchs Forest NSW, Australia, 2005, p.56) 17/09/2007 "Pollen grains come in an incredible range of shapes and sizes, and with wondrous surface patterns. They are one of nature's masterpieces and, in a forensic sense, they are botanical fingerprints. What more could a forensic scientist want than a microscopic tool that is produced in vast numbers, can be identified to a particular plant type and is exceptionally resistant to decay? Despite precautions, criminals may leave or take away from a crime scene lots of something so small they can't see it. And pollen's resistance to decay means that it can still incriminate them years after a crime was committed." (Milne, L., "A Grain of Truth: How Pollen Brought a Murderer to Justice," New Holland: Frenchs Forest NSW, Australia, 2005, p.56) 17/09/2007 "The definition of pollen in the Australian Pocket Oxford Dictionary is `fertilising powder discharged from flowers' anthers'. When we were children, we put our fingers into the centre of flowers to collect the yellow dust. We also saw bees flitting from flower to flower with yellow legs. This powdery stuff called pollen looked the same in every flower. I doubt whether any of us asked if different-looking flowers make different- looking pollen. Even if we had, the answer would probably have been no because the study of pollen is not a science that many lay people know about. When a mass of pollen from a flower of one plant type is examined under a high-powered microscope, the mass can be seen to be thousands of identical pollen grains. Pollen grains from another plant type will all also be identical to each other ...but different from the pollen of the first plant. So yes, flowers from different plant types produce different-looking pollen. It is this that enables palynologists to identify pollen found in soil or on objects down to a particular plant type, or even a specific plant." (Milne, L., "A Grain of Truth: How Pollen Brought a Murderer to Justice," New Holland: Frenchs Forest NSW, Australia, 2005, p.58) 17/09/2007 "The major characteristics used to describe pollen are its overall size and shape, and the type and size of its surface ornamentation, wall structure and openings from which the male sex cells emerge. As a general rule, pollen grains produced by all species from a single genus have similar geometric shapes and similar types of openings and surface ornamentation, but the pollen of each species will differ within these parameters. However, nature likes to leave us with a few challenges, so there are a few exceptions to these rules." (Milne, L., "A Grain of Truth: How Pollen Brought a Murderer to Justice," New Holland: Frenchs Forest NSW, Australia, 2005, p.58) 17/09/2007 "The cytoplasm and its male nuclei (the contents of the pollen grain) are chemically removed from pollen before pollen analysis; what remains is the outer skeleton that protects the male cells on their journey in search of a mate. It is the structure of this skeleton that varies among species and can help solve crimes. To appreciate how pollen is used to solve crimes, it helps to know what it looks like and understand how the different structures are related to the sex life of plants. Pollen is very very small. It even looks small when it's magnified to several hundred times its normal size. Pollen grains range in size from about 5 to 200 Ám (micrometres, or microns for short) in diameter, but most are between 10 and 70 Ám. There are 1000 Ám in a millimetre and 10 000 Ám in a centimetre. These numbers mean little until they are put into the context of `our world'. If pollen grains with a diameter of 10 Ám were placed end to end in a line it would take 100 grains to create a line 1 millimetre long, and 1000 grains to make a line 1 centimetre long. ... `Pollen belongs to a world of another size' [Wodehouse, R.P., "Pollen Grains," McGraw-Hill: New York, 1935]- a microscopic world. " (Milne, L., "A Grain of Truth: How Pollen Brought a Murderer to Justice," New Holland: Frenchs Forest NSW, Australia, 2005, p.59) 17/09/2007 "To examine the fine surface detail of pollen at much higher magnifications, a scanning electron microscope (SEM) is used; and to magnify the structural detail of pollen walls the grains are sliced very finely with a tiny diamond knife, and the resulting thin sections are viewed in a transmission electron microscope (TEM)." (Milne, L., "A Grain of Truth: How Pollen Brought a Murderer to Justice," New Holland: Frenchs Forest NSW, Australia, 2005, p.60) 17/09/2007 "Pollen grains are usually bilaterally symmetrical and can be circular, oval, triangular, pentagonal or hexagonal ..., but with many variations on these and other geometrical themes. Circular grains may be spherical or disc-shaped; and triangular grains vary from a typical equilateral triangle with straight sides to those with varying degrees of concave or convex sides. ... The general shape is always consistent within a species and often within a genus, but may vary within a family." (Milne, L., "A Grain of Truth: How Pollen Brought a Murderer to Justice," New Holland: Frenchs Forest NSW, Australia, 2005, pp.60-61) 17/09/2007 "Most pollen grains have openings, called apertures, from which the male sex cells escape when a grain lands on a friendly stigma. Apertures may be circular `pores', or slits called `colpi' (sing. colpus), or a combination of pores and colpi (see diagram page 62). Each aperture type has a name. For example, pollen with two pores is termed biporate; pollen with three pores and three colpi is called tricolporate. Some thin- walled pollen has no defined apertures, but rather its wall ruptures to release the male sex cells." (Milne, L., "A Grain of Truth: How Pollen Brought a Murderer to Justice," New Holland: Frenchs Forest NSW, Australia, 2005, p.61) 17/09/2007 "The ornamentation or patterning on the surface of pollen grains is termed `sculpture'. This may be regularly spaced or consist of random depressions or holes on the outer wall, or protruding elements. Each sculptural type has a name. Examples include echinate (with spines), baculate (with rod-like elements), verrucate (with hemispherical elements) and reticulate (network-like) ... . The shape and size of these sculptural elements varies on different species. Some pollen has two different elements, such as spines and rods, or even a combination of small holes and a protrusive element. The general sculptural type of pollen is usually visible in light microscopy. ... Scanning electron microscopy (SEM) is used to see the finer sculptural details. ... . Some of these intricate patterns are works of art." (Milne, L., "A Grain of Truth: How Pollen Brought a Murderer to Justice," New Holland: Frenchs Forest NSW, Australia, 2005, p.61) 18/09/2007 "Examples of pollen wall structure and surface sculpture. The most common wall layers of pollen that can be seen in the light microscope are the tectum (T), infratectum or columellate layer (I) and the foot layer (F). Pollen sculpture, the surface ornamentation, may be sculptural elements supported by the tectum or formed by depressions or holes in the tectum. The relative thickness of the wall layers and sculptural types are the same for all pollen from the same species." (Milne, L., "A Grain of Truth: How Pollen Brought a Murderer to Justice," New Holland: Frenchs Forest NSW, Australia, 2005, p.63) 18/09/2007 "Pollen sculpture type is related to the method of dispersal. Most insect-pollinated plants (which include wattles) produce highly ornamented pollen to help them attach to pollinators. Pollen from wind-pollinated plants is usually quite light compared with the heavy pollen from insect-pollinated plants. It may have relatively thin walls and little ornamentation; be disc or torpedo shaped to increase its aerodynamic properties; or have bladders or sacs to keep it aloft. Grass is wind pollinated and the surface of its pollen appears smooth or slightly grainy in light microscopy, but in SEM it can be seen that its surface ornamentation consists of granulate-like bodies. Some wind-pollinated plants, like the Antarctic or Southern Beech (Nothofagus), have highly ornamented pollen like the pollen of animal-pollinated plants, and use other physical characteristics to make them more aerodynamic. Nothofagus pollen looks like a prickly frisbee-a disc covered with spines ....." (Milne, L., "A Grain of Truth: How Pollen Brought a Murderer to Justice," New Holland: Frenchs Forest NSW, Australia, 2005, p.63) 18/09/2007 "Pollen walls are predominantly composed of a tough, acid-resistant biopolymer called sporopollenin. After pollen is shed from an anther, the material inside it (cytoplasm and the male sex cells) will decay relatively quickly if it's exposed to the elements, but the pollen wall may survive normal weathering processes for many years in soil or on objects exposed to the atmosphere. However, if pollen is not exposed to alternate wet and dry conditions in the presence of oxygen over the years, and it is either kept in a dry environment or is buried, it can survive for millions of years. For example, it can be found on objects collected from crimes many years ago, herbarium plant specimens dried hundreds of years ago and in sedimentary rocks deposited millions of years ago. This durability makes pollen an exceptionally useful tool in sciences such as geology, palaeontology, geography and archaeology and, of course, forensic science." (Milne, L., "A Grain of Truth: How Pollen Brought a Murderer to Justice," New Holland: Frenchs Forest NSW, Australia, 2005, pp.62,64) 18/09/2007 "Pollen wall structure is another major characteristic used to differentiate the pollen of one species from that of another species. The walls of fresh pollen may have four discrete layers, but usually only the outer three layers survive the chemical processes pollen is subjected to before it can be microscopically analysed. Pollen walls sliced at 90░ look like a colonnade (see diagram page 63). A solid base layer supports a row of columns upon which another decorative or solid layer rests. The base layer or inner wall of pollen is called a foot layer (or nexine) and the top or outer layer is the tectum. The layer of columns that connect the foot layer to the tectum is the infratectum. The width of these layers relative to each other often helps identify which species pollen is from." (Milne, L., "A Grain of Truth: How Pollen Brought a Murderer to Justice," New Holland: Frenchs Forest NSW, Australia, 2005, p.64) 18/09/2007 "Palynology has its own descriptive language, or terminology. The morphology of pollen is so varied that this terminology is constantly increasing as palynologists study pollen groups not previously studied. Pollen from only a few of the world's plant species has been formally described. In a soil sample there will be many, perhaps hundreds, of different types of pollen. Many of these may not have been described before. Unknown species are given a temporary name or an identity code-such as C1, for circular grain 1-and their general characteristics noted beside a sketch or photograph. This is often sufficient for comparison with pollen in other samples. This is easy forensic palynology. If the soil is from a known locality and it's necessary to know exactly what species the pollen is from, a botanist will identify plants at the site. Pollen is then collected from the actual plants (if they are flowering) and from herbarium specimens, to compare with pollen found in the soil sample. This is slightly more complicated forensic palynology. Stressful forensic palynology is when the pollen morphology of one species must be confidently distinguished from the morphology of pollen from numerous other species of the same genus. This was my challenge with wattle pollen and the murder of Samantha Hall." (Milne, L., "A Grain of Truth: How Pollen Brought a Murderer to Justice," New Holland: Frenchs Forest NSW, Australia, 2005, pp.64-65) 18/09/2007 "The morning after Samantha Hall's body was found and identified, but before her death was widely publicised, her elder brother was asked by his parents to contact a well-known clairvoyant to find out if she could help them learn what had actually happened to Sam. Although a confirmed sceptic, Sam's brother agreed to do this and went to see the clairvoyant that afternoon. He gave a piece of Sam's jewellery to the clairvoyant, and told her only that it was his sister's and that she'd been murdered. She held it in her hand to gain a sense of the person it belonged to, and proceeded to tell him what she knew of this person. Sam's brother taped the reading. The clairvoyant began with the feeling of lying under bushes and a man leaning down over her picking something up. He was an outdoor type of man, a short sleeves man, a man with strong arms and hands. Then she shifted to another view-there was a woman offering daffodils. This was all in the first five minutes of the session. Later she revealed that Sam had been murdered in her own home, as Lyn and Malcolm had suspected. The information the clairvoyant provided about the circumstances surrounding Sam's death that day, and on one other occasion, was chillingly accurate. For example, she described in minute detail that only a person who had seen her body would know, the injuries to Sam's body and what she was wearing at the time she was killed. She also described how Sam was killed and how her body was moved to the place under bushes. Throughout this first session with Sam's brother, and during a second session with Lyn and Malcolm Hall, flowers came into the clairvoyant's view again several times. `Spring flowers ...where there were a lot of flowers ...are they daffodils?' was one such comment. No one told her that there were flowers at the crime scene." (Milne, L., "A Grain of Truth: How Pollen Brought a Murderer to Justice," New Holland: Frenchs Forest NSW, Australia, 2005, pp.66-67) 18/09/2007 "Although simple magnifying glasses have probably been around since the ancient Greeks, they are not strong enough to study pollen. The lens in a magnifying glass is a bi-convex piece of glass that bends light rays, and where the bent rays join and diverge they form an enlarged image of the object being viewed through the lens. The best common magnifying glasses today can only magnify objects 10 to 20 times their actual size-conventionally written as x 10 or x 20. When two or more lenses are used, the amount they magnify a specimen is the product of the strength of each lens. For example, if two x 10 lenses are used they will magnify a specimen x 100. If a x 10 and a x 100 lens are used, the image they produce will be x 1000 the actual size of a specimen. The compound microscope, developed in 1665 by the English experimental scientist Hooke, was a simple brass tube with three lenses-one at each end and another in the middle. Almost 40 years later, a microscope with a screw focus was developed so specimens could remain in one position while the tube containing the lenses could be moved up and down to focus on different parts of a three-dimensional object. Throughout history each new advance in the capability of microscopes has produced a corresponding advance in the knowledge and application of palynology. Without microscopes we would still consider pollen to be flowers' dust and believe that plants don't reproduce sexually-and there would be no palynology." (Milne, L., "A Grain of Truth: How Pollen Brought a Murderer to Justice," New Holland: Frenchs Forest NSW, Australia, 2005, p.72) 18/09/2007 "The first scientists to look at pollen in any detail did so out of sheer curiosity. It was another small part of nature to look at with the newly developed compound microscope. At that time, in the mid-seventeenth century, European scientists still didn't know what function pollen served in the plant world and there was much speculation as to whether it was a useful part of plants or an incidental secretion. Many botanists at that time compared plant organs and their function with the organs of animals. One scientist even suggested that the role of pollen was similar to that of the menstrual flow in female mammals. Another, on observing insects visiting flowers, suggested that pollen was produced to provide food for insects-it was an example of nature's generosity. Although some scientists speculated that pollen had something to do with plant sexuality, they were shouted down by their peers." (Milne, L., "A Grain of Truth: How Pollen Brought a Murderer to Justice," New Holland: Frenchs Forest NSW, Australia, 2005, pp.73-74) 18/09/2007 "In the two decades that followed the development of the compound microscope, the study of microscopic plant anatomy boomed. The founders of this new discipline, the Englishman Nehemiah Grew and the Italian Marcello Malpighi, separately published works that included descriptions and illustrations of pollen grains. They called them `Particles' or `Globulets' respectively. In his Anatomy of Plants, published in 1682, Grew reported that these Particles ,...are of different size and form in different species, but those of the same species are alike'. [Wodehouse, R.P., "Pollen Grains," McGraw-Hill: New York, 1935] This simple fact forms the basis of palynology today. There was no special terminology with which to describe what he saw down the microscope, so Grew compared the different shapes of pollen with objects that can be seen with the naked eye, such as seeds and fruit, and even a Dutch cheese. It's possible that Grew knew of the fertilising function of pollen, but the existence of plant sexuality is credited to Rudolph Camerarius, a German who in 1694 provided abundant evidence of the role of anthers and pollen in the sexual reproduction of plants from his study of mulberry trees. For Grew and Malpighi the study of pollen was not a lifetime occupation. Both men were physicians with interests in the comparison of animal and plant morphology and pollen was only a small part of their research. There was no further development of the microscope in the 150 years that followed, and the study of microscopic plant parts stagnated until the early nineteenth century." (Milne, L., "A Grain of Truth: How Pollen Brought a Murderer to Justice," New Holland: Frenchs Forest NSW, Australia, 2005, p.74) 18/09/2007 "By 1824 the most modern microscope was capable of magnifying objects x 500. The botanical artist Francis Bauer, who worked in England with the legendary botanist Robert Brown under the patronage of Sir Joseph Banks, sparked the next surge of interest in pollen morphology. His pencil sketches of pollen from 175 species are now held in the British Museum. Some of the grains he drew were pollen of wattle species. Bauer and Brown apparently recognised the importance of pollen characteristics in the description of plant species, and in many of Bauer's paintings of plants he illustrated their pollen. ... . From the 1830s to the 1850s there was a great increase in the knowledge of pollen morphology. At the same time, aspects other than pollen's physical appearance were investigated. These included the function of pores, grains' ability to expand and contract in water, their arrangement in anthers, the pollen tubes they grew and the structure, surface sculpture and chemistry of their walls. This was pure scientific research-the search for knowledge for the sake of knowledge itself. Oh, for the days when artists and scientists had patrons who supported their work, or had jobs for life to pursue their passion. Pure research, or blue-sky research as it is sometimes called, has provided the modern world with many of its most important discoveries. Unfortunately, those who provide funding for research today often overlook this fact. Scientific research is now predominantly driven by the projected commercial application of its findings. It's unlikely that early researchers of pollen envisaged that their studies would eventually have economic uses, but their research has paid its dues and pollen analysis now has many commercial applications." (Milne, L., "A Grain of Truth: How Pollen Brought a Murderer to Justice," New Holland: Frenchs Forest NSW, Australia, 2005, pp.74-75) 18/09/2007 "Although the forensic use of pollen and spores didn't begin until the early 1960s, other economic and scientific uses for their study evolved during the first half of the twentieth century. As these commercial applications grew, a name was sought for this new discipline and its applications. The word palynology was proposed in the 1940s' to cover both the academic study of pollen and spores and the commercial and scientific applications of pollen analysis. Pollen means dust in Latin, and the word palynology was derived from the Greek verb palunein, which means to sprinkle or dust. [Jansonius, J. & McGregor, D.C., eds., 1996, "Palynology: Principles and Applications," American Association of Stratigraphic Palynologists Foundation: Dallas TX , Vol. 1, pp.1-10] The scope of palynology has since broadened and now includes the study of other plant and some animal microfossils that are acid-resistant. Because they're acid-resistant, it's possible to extract them from sediments, soil and dust by using acids to get rid of most of the minerals. Collectively, all microscopic particles studied by palynologists are called palynomorphs. They include fungal spores, cysts from marine and freshwater algae, remains of extinct microscopic organisms and fragments of plant and animal tissues. They're all found in sedimentary rocks and have chemical compositions that resist degradation if they are deposited in favourable conditions." (Milne, L., "A Grain of Truth: How Pollen Brought a Murderer to Justice," New Holland: Frenchs Forest NSW, Australia, 2005, p.76) 18/09/2007 "There are two major divisions within palynology. In broad terms. Quaternary palynology, the study of palynomorphs from the last 2 million years, is a tool for geographers, archaeologists, botanists and geologists. Palaeopalynology, the study of older palynomorphs, is the domain of geologists and palaeobotanists. Today there are many specialist areas within each division. Quaternary palynology and palaeopalynology use different methods of preparation and analysis." (Milne, L., "A Grain of Truth: How Pollen Brought a Murderer to Justice," New Holland: Frenchs Forest NSW, Australia, 2005, pp.76-77) 18/09/2007 "Pollen was first used as an investigative tool in 1916, when E. J. Lennart von Post, a Norwegian geologist, presented his research on pollen analysis of Quaternary peat bogs. Tens of metres of peat can build up over time in shallow lakes, swamps and marshes where plants grow rapidly and are equally speedily buried by their successors. The fossil plant material in each layer of peat is a record of plants that grew in the area when the peat formed. During the Quaternary era the Earth experienced quite rapid changes in climate. Rapid, that is, in terms of geological time, which means these changes occurred over thousands, rather than millions, of years. During the coldest periods, ice-sheets covered Canada, the northern USA, Europe, New Zealand, Tasmania and south-eastern Australia. These glacial periods were followed by warmer periods called interglacials. As the climate changed, so did the vegetation. In the early 1900s European scientists looking for evidence of these past climate changes searched in peat bogs for well-preserved fossil leaves, wood and seeds. Von Post's research showed that pollen was more plentiful than large well-preserved plant material in peat bogs, and that sequential vegetation and climatic changes could easily be recognised by studying pollen at different levels in the peat." (Milne, L., "A Grain of Truth: How Pollen Brought a Murderer to Justice," New Holland: Frenchs Forest NSW, Australia, 2005, p.77) 18/09/2007 "Prior to von Post's 1916 work, the study of pollen had been the domain of botanists. Gradually over the next twenty years pollen analysis began to be used by other disciplines to study sediments in lakes, swamps, peat bogs, caves and alluvial deposits. Geographers began to use it to measure climate change. Palaeobotanists and geologists studied it to understand the evolution of plants. And archaeologists used pollen to investigate the beginnings of agriculture. The next advance in pollen analysis evolved in the mid- 1930s, with the use of fossil pollen and spores to link, or match up, sedimentary rock layers (strata) of the same age, but occurring in different localities. This is called stratigraphic correlation. Although the techniques developed to correlate sedimentary rocks are used in coalfields and other areas of mining, the greatest economic use of palynology in the last 50 years has been in the petroleum industry-in the search for oil and gas." (Milne, L., "A Grain of Truth: How Pollen Brought a Murderer to Justice," New Holland: Frenchs Forest NSW, Australia, 2005, p.77) 19/09/2007 "In simple terms forensic palynology is the use of pollen and spores to help solve crimes. ... . Forensic palynology is the comparison of pollen samples from crime scenes, victims, suspects and objects `of interest' to prove or disprove a relationship between them. Fingerprint analysis and DNA profiling aim to make the same connections. ... . Whereas fingerprinting uses trace evidence from the human body to identify a particular person, and DNA profiling can also identify a particular plant or animal, palynology uses trace evidence from plants to determine where a person has been or the origin or travel history of objects and organic material. Palynology has been instrumental in many convictions, but its value also lies in providing corroborative evidence-evidence that supports other lines of evidence; and in suggesting other areas or people to investigate. I call the latter `pointing police in the right direction'. ... Aside from murders and rapes, there are numerous types of criminal and civil cases in which palynology has been used. It has foiled illegal importers by revealing what country goods and foodstuffs have come from. Fraud has been detected from pollen in the ink of signed documents, and a taxidermist's stuffing in a museum exhibit has disproved its claimed country of origin. ... The two earliest recorded cases in which palynology was used as evidence in court illustrate how pollen analysis can indicate where a crime scene may be or at what time of year a crime was committed. Both occurred in 1959, one in Austria and one in Sweden. They were first reported in English by Erdtman in 1969 in his Handbook of Palynology. [Erdtman, G., "Handbook of Palynology," Hafner: New York, 1969]" (Milne, L., "A Grain of Truth: How Pollen Brought a Murderer to Justice," New Holland: Frenchs Forest NSW, Australia, 2005, pp.87-88) 19/09/2007 "There are two ways of comparing pollen samples. One compares the relative composition of pollen assemblages and the other concentrates on the identification of rare pollen types specific to a particular locality. It's ideal if both can be used. The majority of pollen in soil will be from wind-pollinated plants. This provides an overview of the vegetation in the immediate area and its surrounds, and is useful where two different vegetation types are involved. It's not difficult to tell the difference between a pollen assemblage from soil in a pine forest and one from a garden, vacant block, or eucalypt woodland. Pollen from animal- and insect-pollinated plants is rare by comparison in most dispersed pollen assemblages, but it can provide more specific evidence about the locality it came from." (Milne, L., "A Grain of Truth: How Pollen Brought a Murderer to Justice," New Holland: Frenchs Forest NSW, Australia, 2005, p.90) 19/09/2007 "A pollen grain fresh from a flower is like a jelly blob with symmetry. Its finer structural details will usually be obscured by a film of oily material (lipids) covering its outer surface, and by the fluid (cytoplasm) inside it that contains the two male sex cells. To see pollen grains clearly under a microscope, palynologists first have to chemically remove this `goo' to leave only its non-living wall. the structure that we actually study. This isn't unlike removing the skin, flesh and internal organs of an animal from its bony skeleton. There are similar problems when it comes to finding dispersed pollen-pollen in soil, rocks, dirt, dust and water samples. The pollen fraction of a sample has to be isolated from its mineral components (e.g. sand and clay) and other small particles of organic matter (e.g. fragments of leaves, roots, wood and insects). Fresh pollen samples and those containing dispersed pollen go through a variety of chemical and physical treatments before they are microscopically examined. Collectively these procedures are called palynological preparation or processing, or just processing for short. The aim of processing is to reduce the size of the sample by removing as much of the unwanted organic matter and minerals as possible, retaining only the pollen-sized organic matter. How pollen samples are prepared and in what order the procedures are carried out may differ slightly from one laboratory to another." (Milne, L., "A Grain of Truth: How Pollen Brought a Murderer to Justice," New Holland: Frenchs Forest NSW, Australia, 2005, p.96) 19/09/2007 "Fresh pollen from a flower and dispersed pollen in soil samples and Quaternary sedimentary rocks undergo a process called acetolysis ... . Acetolysis removes much of the unwanted organic matter in a sample. It digests cellulose, the major component of plant cell walls, and the outer lipids and inner cytoplasm of the pollen grains. However, it doesn't harm the pollen `skeleton' because, as mentioned earlier, the pollen walls are made of a tough, acid-resistant material called sporopollenin. The acetolysis mixture is made from acetic anhydride and sulphuric acid. Acetic anhydride, as its name suggests, is anhydrous; that is, it doesn't mix with water. But it does mix with acetic acid, which in turn mixes with acetic anhydride. For this reason samples are rinsed several times in acetic acid to remove any water in them before they're boiled in the acetolysis mixture. They are rinsed again afterwards with acetic acid to remove traces of acetic anhydride before the sample goes back into water." (Milne, L., "A Grain of Truth: How Pollen Brought a Murderer to Justice," New Holland: Frenchs Forest NSW, Australia, 2005, p.99) 19/09/2007 "The organic material that remains after a soil or fresh pollen sample has been palynologically processed is called the sample residue. To make a permanent slide of the residue for microscopy, a small drop of it is placed on a glass microscope slide, mixed with a microscope mounting medium (e.g. glycerine jelly, glycerol, silicon oil or a plastic material) and covered with a glass coverslip. In forensic palynology most soil samples and fresh pollen samples that have to be processed are control samples. These are collected from a crime scene, or a herbarium in the case of pollen reference material. Pollen in the control samples is compared with the pollen assemblages recovered from items the police suspect might be associated with a crime. Police call these items, or samples they have collected from them, exhibits. I call the samples that I process from exhibits forensic samples, to distinguish them from the control samples when I'm processing, and from the original exhibits I received from the police." (Milne, L., "A Grain of Truth: How Pollen Brought a Murderer to Justice," New Holland: Frenchs Forest NSW, Australia, 2005, p.101) 19/09/2007 "The type of palynology Steel did was very general in comparison with the kind of palynology I did. He grouped pollen from the same plant family together and rarely had to distinguish between pollen from different species. Using untreated pollen, it was not surprising that he couldn't distinguish between pollen from the two wattle species. Even if he did acetolyse the samples, would he be any the wiser? Probably not. It had taken me years to develop an `eye' for the subtle structural differences between pollen of closely related species." (Milne, L., "A Grain of Truth: How Pollen Brought a Murderer to Justice," New Holland: Frenchs Forest NSW, Australia, 2005, p.114) 19/09/2007 "That night I sat down at my microscope to examine the samples Steel had given me. I had to determine if the pollen from the two wattle species at Noosa could be separately identified, and if the flower from the victim's car was from one of those species. First, I separated the tape-lift slides and put them in a slotted slide box. They could wait until later. The control flower specimens from the Noosa bushland were my first priority. With fine forceps I took several anthers from each of the control flowers, mixed them with a drop of water and put a cover slip on top. This was a temporary water-mount that would be discarded after it dried out. When I looked at the pollen down the microscope I found that both species had 16 separate cells (monads) joined to form the grain. Wattle pollen is characteristically a composite grain, whereas most pollen grains are single cells. Acacia saligna pollen was larger than A. sophorae pollen, that was clear, but ...and then I saw it. Each species had different patterns on the four monads in the middle of the grains. Once the pollen was processed (acetolysed) these differences would be clear enough to measure. One of Steel's problems was solved. It was possible to distinguish between pollen from the two wattle species from Noosa." (Milne, L., "A Grain of Truth: How Pollen Brought a Murderer to Justice," New Holland: Frenchs Forest NSW, Australia, 2005, p.118) 19/09/2007 "To me, the pollen evidence was solid. But a lay person would still ask: `Couldn't it have blown into the car and onto the clothes on a really windy and rainy day?' I would have to explain about the different ways pollen is transported. There were several grains of wind-borne pollen, from pine trees and grasses, in the vacuum filter sample from the victim's car and on the clothing tape-lifts. But the heavier insect-transported wattle pollen was present in greater numbers than all of the wind-transported pollen types together. Wattle pollen grains are only very rarely carried by strong winds, so their high numbers relative to the wind- pollinated pollen present in the vacuum filter sample meant that they had to have been carried into the driver's side of the car on the clothing of the driver. Furthermore, for some wattle pollen to remain on the suspect's shirt and jeans after they had been washed, there must have been a large amount of pollen on them before they were washed. The wearer could only have collected large numbers of wattle pollen on his clothing by brushing against flowering plants." (Milne, L., "A Grain of Truth: How Pollen Brought a Murderer to Justice," New Holland: Frenchs Forest NSW, Australia, 2005, pp.134-135) 19/09/2007 "It transpired that the defence were considering employing a colleague of mine who they hoped would suggest that prevailing winds and rain could have carried wattle pollen from Noosa to Gympie. Aside from an emphatic `Bullshit!', my answer to this is unprintable. Of course, there are always exceptions to rules, but in the context of the number of wattle pollen grains present on Holden's clothing and in the victim's car relative to the other pollen types present, I doubt the defence's counter to this evidence would've been sustained. Since then I have heard that the defence believed the pollen evidence was based on only one pollen grain. This wasn't the case. Even if it was, it was irrelevant when placed in context. After all, wasn't a single fossil pollen grain the grain of truth in a 1960 murder case in Austria?" (Milne, L., "A Grain of Truth: How Pollen Brought a Murderer to Justice," New Holland: Frenchs Forest NSW, Australia, 2005, p.134) 19/09/2007 "At each outdoor crime scene - ideally before the surrounds are trampled by others - Dr Milne works with a botanist to identify and take samples of the surrounles of the surrounding vegetation and soil to get a `snapshot' of the vegetation. ... `Each plant family produces a different type of pollen, and while they have general similarities, each species is slightly different,' she says. `I can look down a microscope and tell if pollen is from a gum tree, wattle or grass. `But then I have to narrow it down to an exact species within that type - in WA there are 13,500 different species of native plants and each has pollen with an individually distinguishing structure.' Identifying pollen species together with the proportions of each in a soil sample gives clues as to the geographical area of origin, as each region is typified by a particular mix of species, she said. Wind- pollinated plants produced up to 100,000 pollen grains per anther which are spread over large areas. But insect-pollinated plants - those with brighter flowers - only dropped pollen up to a few metres from the plant, she said. `Pollen from wind-pollinated plants tells about the vegetation of the region and pollen from insect pollinated plants tells about the local area.'" (Batcheler, A., "Rape, murder no match for pollen," POST, Perth, Western Australia, August 20, 2005)
* Authors with an asterisk against their name are believed not to be evolutionists. However, lack of an
asterisk does not necessarily mean that an author is an evolutionist.
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Created: 23 December, 2006. Updated: 4 April, 2010.