In this section we will explore the use of carbon dating to determine the age of fossil remains. Carbon is a key element in biologically important molecules. During the lifetime of an organism, carbon is brought into the cell from the environment in the form of either carbon dioxide or carbon-based food molecules such as glucose; then used to build biologically important molecules such as sugars, proteins, fats, and nucleic acids. These molecules are subsequently incorporated into the cells and tissues that make up living things.
Explainer: what is radiocarbon dating and how does it work?
Since , scientists have reckoned the ages of many old objects by measuring the amounts of radioactive carbon they contain. New research shows, however, that some estimates based on carbon may have erred by thousands of years. It is too soon to know whether the discovery will seriously upset the estimated dates of events like the arrival of human beings in the Western Hemisphere, scientists said. But it is already clear that the carbon method of dating will have to be recalibrated and corrected in some cases. They arrived at this conclusion by comparing age estimates obtained using two different methods - analysis of radioactive carbon in a sample and determination of the ratio of uranium to thorium in the sample.
How does radiometric dating help scientists pinpoint the age of a fossil?
Meteorites are among the oldest objects we know about - formed about 4. But how do scientists know this? This article describes the principles and methods used to make that determination. There are well-known methods of finding the ages of some natural objects.
By: Marshall Brain. A child mummy is found high in the Andes and the archaeologist says the child lived more than 2, years ago. How do scientists know how old an object or human remains are?