The carbon in their bodies at the time of their death will remain in their bodies until they decompose, or if they become fossilized, then forever. This allows scientists to look at the amount of decay in a fossil’s radioactive carbon and determine a relative date.Radiocarbon dating is only effective for objects and fossils that are less than 50,000 years old.Anthropologists work with humans their cultures, societies, languages, and ways of life, in addition to their bones and artifacts.Some paleontologists do study the fossil record of humans and their relatives.However, scientists can look at the decay of other elements in these objects allowing them to date them up to 2.2 billion years.Scientists use a technique called radiometric dating to estimate the ages of rocks, fossils, and the earth.Atoms are made up of much smaller particles called protons, neutrons, and electrons.Protons and neutrons make up the center (nucleus) of the atom, and electrons form shells around the nucleus.
Organisms at the base of the food chain that photosynthesize – for example, plants and algae – use the carbon in Earth’s atmosphere.
Carbon combines with other elements in complex ways to form the molecules that make up our bodies.
Most carbon on Earth is not radioactive, but a very small percentage is.
However, paleontology as a whole encompasses all life, from bacteria to whales.
Paleontology does not usually deal with artifacts made by humans.
With our focus on one particular form of radiometric dating—carbon dating—we will see that carbon dating strongly supports a young earth.