scute from an old long dead Hermann's tortoise
Following my intent to post a bit more regularly, this is just a quick note of where I have now got to.

A while back a vet kindly gave me some scutes from a long-dead tortoise (see picture on left) , so I have now ground these down into a fine powder to use as my bulk material (see explanation below).  This involved using a cool machine I've not used before   - a high velocity ball mill (image below).

When analysing samples for stable isotope analysis multiple samples are put in a run, many of which will be the samples that have an unknown isotopic value (the one's we're interested in).  Others are samples of known isotopic value.  These are called standards and are used to calibrate the data.  It is also good to include a sample of bulk material that is similar to the unknown samples.  Bulk material can be included in every run to check consistency within and between labs.  

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