Carbon dating bones

Instead, other methods are used to work out a fossil’s age.These include radiometric dating of volcanic layers above or below the fossils or by comparisons to similar rocks and fossils of known ages.

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Knowing when a dinosaur or other animal lived is important because it helps us place them on the evolutionary family tree.

Accurate dates also allow us to create sequences of evolutionary change and work out when species appeared or became extinct. These are: Where possible, several different methods are used and each method is repeated to confirm the results obtained and improve accuracy.

By observing the ratio of isotopes in a fossil, the number of half-lives can be calculated and thus the approximate age of the fossil determined. A radioisotope will decay at a fixed rate as a value known as its half-life.

By observing the ratio of isotopes in a fossil, the number of half-lives can be calculated and thus the approximate age of the fossil determined. To determine the age of a dinosaur fossil, carbon dating can never be used.

This form of uranium usually decays into a stable lead isotope but the uranium atoms can also split – a process known as fission.

During this process the pieces of the atom move apart at high speed, causing damage to the rock or mineral.

It does this by losing nuclear particles over time.

Radioisotopes are unstable but they eventually decay into a stable isotope.

Fossils and other objects that accumulate between these eruptions lie between two different layers of volcanic ash and rock.

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