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Deep off the east coast of the United States, nestled among the rocks, ravines and reefs of the continental shelf, the Warsaw grouper lives in twilight. The dull brown reclusive fish are obscure outside of deep-sea sport fishing and notable mostly for their massive size — adults can grow almost 8 feet long.

But Warsaw groupers contain a secret in their bones, a mark that originated in the science labs of Oak Ridge and was inscribed by the atomic weapons testing made possible by the Manhattan Project. The ear bones of fish born during the Cold War contain elevated levels of the harmless radioactive isotope carbon-14. 


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