Is There Any Test To Date A Person's Age

Obivously you couldn’t do it exactly, but within a range. I’m talking about a scientific test.

For instance if I just presented you with a person, could you do any medical test, or scientific test, to approximate an age. In other words if I present you with a person you could say, "this person is between 80-85.

I’m thinking things like maybe looking at teeth and saying “OK the wear indicates at least 50 years of age.” Or something like that.

I guess I mean something like radiocarbon dating for live people

Can’t you cut off their arm and count the rings? :smiley:

I know it’s an old joke but it continues to be one of my favorites.

My father told me that Linus Pauling once assigned a graduate student the task of searching all applicable and available literature to determine if there were a viable method of doing this. At that time there wasn’t. I’ve never heard this anecdote from anybody else, and I don’t know any more about it than just that fact. If anybody else knows more about this, please speak up.

AFAIK, it is now possible to pinpoint a person’s age by measuring the racemization of aspartic acid in their teeth. Apparently this is done by measuring the ratio of the dextro and levo enantiomorphs, which changes in a constant and predictable manner throughout a human’s lifespan.

The other night I was watching a crime drama in which the coroner glibly announced to the investigating detectives that she had determined the victim’s exact age by measuring the amount of blah blah blah in the vic’s eyeball. Don’t know anything about it, but if nobody else comes forward, I’ll dig through the TiVo trash and see if I can find it. I think it was SVU—the episode that was on last week about the murdered female astronaut.

I’m not too knowledgeable about this sort of thing, but theoretically you could do it by measuring something like the DNA. Also, I’ve read something about cells being hardcoded to divide something like 52 times (my brother was also telling me about this, he’s much smarter than I am, hehe) so I suppose you could figure out by calculating the cell division. I’ve also heard that the sperm of a 28-30 year old man has only gone through something like 300 generations whereas the sperm of a 50 year old has gone through nearly a thousand. That said, if they can measure that sort of thing one would imagine they can reverse the process (the article was about how human evolution is slowing because older men aren’t having children as much, on top of the whole more people living to adulthood thing)

I think what you’re describing relates to telomeres. The wikipedia page has a nice summary:

With children and teens, you can get a fairly accurate estimate by looking at the epiphyseal growth plates in the bones. When we’re born, some of our “bones” are still cartilage, and those areas are slowly replaced by actual bone. Measure the still-cartilage area, and you can estimate how much growth is left, and thus the likely age of the individual. You can do this with an x-ray (or, of course, CT or MRI, 'though those are more expensive).

I know the facial bones keep growing throughout life (according to my current A&P teacher, anyhow), but I don’t know if they do so consistently enough to be a good age marker.

You guys just had to make me dig through the DVR recycle bin, didn’t you? It was carbon-14 in the lens of the vic’s eye. The ME placed her age down to the month.


I don’t know if there’s any part of the human body that can be carbon-dated (it’d have to be something that is made once and never replenished), but there’s no way you could carbon date anything down to the month. The usual standard is about 50 years, and it’d be even worse for anything after July 1945.