Can radiocarbon dating be used on rocks
If we assume that the mammoth originally had the same number of carbon-14 atoms in its bones as living animals do today (estimated at one carbon-14 atom for every trillion carbon-12 atoms), then, because we also know the radiocarbon decay rate, we can calculate how long ago the mammoth died. This dating method is also similar to the principle behind an hourglass (figure 4).The sand grains that originally filled the top bowl represent the carbon-14 atoms in the living mammoth just before it died.If the level is constant, living plants and animals should also maintain a constant carbon-14 level in them.
How do scientists know how old an object or human remains are?
It’s assumed to be the same number of carbon-14 atoms as in elephants living today.
With time, those sand grains fell to the bottom bowl, so the new number represents the carbon-14 atoms left in the mammoth skull when we found it.
Let’s suppose we find a mammoth’s skull, and we want to date it to determine how long ago it lived.
We can measure in the laboratory how many carbon-14 atoms are still in the skull.
After plants and animals perish, however, they no longer replace molecules damaged by radioactive decay.