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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.Unlike people, you can’t really guess the age of a rock from looking at it.Yet, you’ve heard the news: Earth is 4.6 billion years old. That corn cob found in an ancient Native American fire pit is 1,000 years old. Geologic age dating—assigning an age to materials—is an entire discipline of its own.One way that helps scientists place fossils into the correct era on the Geologic Time Scale is by using radiometric dating.Also called absolute dating, scientists use the decay of radioactive elements within the fossils or the rocks around the fossils to determine the age of the organism that was preserved.The best radioactive element to use to date human fossils is Carbon-14.
But while the difficulties of single life may be intractable, the challenge of determining the age of prehistoric artifacts and fossils is greatly aided by measuring certain radioactive isotopes.
Until this century, relative dating was the only technique for identifying the age of a truly ancient object.
By examining the object's relation to layers of deposits in the area, and by comparing the object to others found at the site, archaeologists can estimate when the object arrived at the site.
Below is a chart of commonly used radiometric isotopes, their half-lives, and the daughter isotopes they decay into.
Let's say you found a fossil you think to be a human skeleton.