Radiocarbon dating can be used on samples of bone, cloth, wood and plant fibers.The half-life of a radioactive isotope describes the amount of time that it takes half of the isotope in a sample to decay.A fossil can be studied to determine what kind of organism it represents, how the organism lived, and how it was preserved.
Overview of Methods Superposition Stratigraphy Dendrochronology Radiocarbon C14 Radiometric Dating Methods Obsidian Hydration Dating Paleomagnetic/Archaeomagnetic Luminescence Dating Methods Amino Acid Racemization Fission-track Dating Ice Cores Varves Pollens Corals Cation Ratio Fluorine Dating Patination Oxidizable Carbon Ratio Electron Spin Resonance Cosmic-ray Exposure Dating This is an excellent overview of dating methodologies, and is a chapter in a textbook on Archaeology.
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The age of the fossil must be determined so it can be compared to other fossil species from the same time period.
Understanding the ages of related fossil species helps scientists piece together the evolutionary history of a group of organisms.
Dating is not necessary to demonstrate that evolution is a fact.
Chronological sequence is all that is really required.In the case of radiocarbon dating, the half-life of carbon 14 is 5,730 years.This half life is a relatively small number, which means that carbon 14 dating is not particularly helpful for very recent deaths and deaths more than 50,000 years ago.For example, based on the primate fossil record, scientists know that living primates evolved from fossil primates and that this evolutionary history took tens of millions of years.By comparing fossils of different primate species, scientists can examine how features changed and how primates evolved through time.When an organism dies it ceases to replenish carbon in its tissues and the decay of carbon 14 to nitrogen 14 changes the ratio of carbon 12 to carbon 14.