Carbon 14 dating simplified

When a radiocarbon dating lab doesn’t see any carbon-14 in a fossil, it knows the fossil is more than 50,000 years old.

Petroleum and dinosaur bones are examples of fossil materials that no longer have carbon-14 remaining in them.

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Their bodies are said to be in “equilibrium” with carbon-14 in the air.Although carbon-14 is radioactively decaying away in the body, it is constantly being replaced by new photosynthesis or the ingestion of food, leaving the amount relatively constant.Radiocarbon, or carbon-14 (also written as C), is an isotope of carbon that is unstable and weakly radioactive.Carbon-14 is present in all living things in minute amounts.This carbon-14 immediately starts to radioactively decay but is constantly being recreated.

This leaves the amount in the air relatively constant.Eventually, all the carbon-14 in the remains will disappear.This principle applies equally to a person dying, a corn stalk being cut down, or to a soybean plant being pulled out of the ground.After 50,000 years, a fossil won’t have any radiocarbon left in it.Carbon-14 will have all disappeared by radioactive decay.Animals eat plants and/or other animals; humans eat plants and animals.