It is the principal source of information about the absolute age of rocks and other geological features, including the age of the Earth itself, and it can be used to date a wide range of natural and man-made materials.
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For example, in 1991, two hikers discovered a mummified man, preserved for centuries in the ice on an alpine mountain.
Later called Ötzi the Iceman, small samples from his body were carbon dated by scientists.
There's a small amount of radioactive carbon-14 in all living organisms.
When they die no new carbon-14 is taken in by the dead organism.
The Wheeler Formation has been previously dated to approximately 507 million year old, so we know the trilobite is also about 507 million years old.
But, how can we determine how old a rock formation is, if it hasn’t previously been dated?
So let’s take a closer look and see how reliable this dating method really is.
Each chemical element, such as carbon and oxygen, consists of atoms.
Scientists can use certain types of fossils referred to as index fossils to assist in relative dating via correlation.