Carbon dating explained simple

Here is an easy-to understand analogy for your students: relative age dating is like saying that your grandfather is older than you.

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Unlike people, you can’t really guess the age of a rock from looking at it.

Yet, you’ve heard the news: Earth is 4.6 billion years old. That corn cob found in an ancient Native American fire pit is 1,000 years old. Geologic age dating—assigning an age to materials—is an entire discipline of its own.

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.

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