Find additional lessons, activities, videos, and articles that focus on relative and absolute dating.
Carbon dating is used to determine the age of biological artifacts up to 50,000 years old.
Other methods scientists use include counting rock layers and tree rings.
When scientists first began to compare carbon dating data to data from tree rings, they found carbon dating provided "too-young" estimates of artifact age.
These artifacts have gone through many carbon-14 half-lives, and the amount of carbon-14 remaining in them is miniscule and very difficult to detect.
Carbon dating cannot be used on most fossils, not only because they are almost always allegedly too old, but also because they rarely contain the original carbon of the organism that has been fossilized.
All dating methods that support this theory are embraced, while any evidence to the contrary, e.g. Prior to radiometric dating, evolution scientists used index fossils a.k.a. A paleontologist would take the discovered fossil to a geologist who would ask the paleontologist what other fossils (searching for an index fossil) were found near their discovery.
Once our geologist had the “index fossil” that was found approximately in the same layer as the newly discovered fossil, he would then see where in the geologic column it came from and presto, he now had a date for his newly discovered fossil.
This technique is not restricted to bones; it can also be used on cloth, wood and plant fibers.
Fossils are generally found in sedimentary rock not igneous rock.
Sedimentary rocks can be dated using radioactive carbon, but because carbon decays relatively quickly, this only works for rocks younger than about 50 thousand years.
This human nuclear activity will make precise dating of fossils from our lifetime very difficult due to contamination of the normal radioisotope composition of the earth with addition artificially produced radioactive atoms.
The various confounding factors that can adversely affect the accuracy of carbon-14 dating methods are evident in many of the other radioisotope dating methods.
The assumptions are similar to the assumptions used in carbon dating.