Scientific fossil dating

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Absolute dating provides a numerical age or range in contrast with relative dating which places events in order without any measure of the age between events.

In archaeology, absolute dating is usually based on the physical, chemical, and life properties of the materials of artifacts, buildings, or other items that have been modified by humans and by historical associations with materials with known dates (coins and written history).

It cannot be used to accurately date a site on its own.

Potassium is common in rocks and minerals, allowing many samples of geochronological or archeological interest to be dated.

Carbon-14 moves up the food chain as animals eat plants and as predators eat other animals. It takes 5,730 years for half the carbon-14 to change to nitrogen; this is the half-life of carbon-14.

After another 5,730 years only one-quarter of the original carbon-14 will remain.

Thus dating that particular tree does not necessarily indicate when the fire burned or the structure was built.

For this reason, many archaeologists prefer to use samples from short-lived plants for radiocarbon dating.

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