The half-life of carbon-14 is 5,730 years, so carbon dating is only relevant for dating fossils less than 60,000 years old. Carbon dating uses the decay of carbon-14 to estimate the age of organic materials, such as wood and leather.
How do you determine the age of a fossil?
To establish the age of a rock or a fossil, researchers use some type of clock to determine the date it was formed. Geologists commonly use radiometric dating methods, based on the natural radioactive decay of certain elements such as potassium and carbon, as reliable clocks to date ancient events.
Why is carbon 14 dating used in determining the age of fossils?
The basis of radiocarbon dating is simple: all living things absorb carbon from the atmosphere and food sources around them, including a certain amount of natural, radioactive carbon-14. When the plant or animal dies, they stop absorbing, but the radioactive carbon that theyve accumulated continues to decay.