Relative dating uses to estimate how old a fossil is

Carbon-14, or radiocarbon, is a naturally occurring radioactive isotope that forms when cosmic rays in the upper atmosphere strike nitrogen molecules, which then oxidize to become carbon dioxide.Green plants absorb the carbon dioxide, so the population of carbon-14 molecules is continually replenished until the plant dies.Carbon-14 is also passed onto the animals that eat those plants.After death the amount of carbon-14 in the organic specimen decreases very regularly as the molecules decay.The age of the fossil must be determined so it can be compared to other fossil species from the same time period.

Long before scientists had developed the technology necessary to assign ages in terms of number of years before the present, they were able to develop a 'relative' geologic time scale.

Carbon dating is used to determine the age of biological artifacts up to 50,000 years old.


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