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Paleontology seeks to map out how life evolved across geologic time.

A substantial hurdle is the difficulty of working out fossil ages.

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The idea behind radiocarbon dating is straightforward, but years of work were required to develop the technique to the point where accurate dates could be obtained.

Research has been ongoing since the 1960s to determine what the proportion of in the atmosphere has been over the past fifty thousand years.

The resulting radiocarbon combines with atmospheric oxygen to form radioactive carbon dioxide, which is incorporated into plants by photosynthesis; animals then acquire in a sample from a dead plant or animal such as a piece of wood or a fragment of bone provides information that can be used to calculate when the animal or plant died.

The older a sample is, the less (the period of time after which half of a given sample will have decayed) is about 5,730 years, the oldest dates that can be reliably measured by this process date to around 50,000 years ago, although special preparation methods occasionally permit accurate analysis of older samples.

The layers of sedimentary rock, or strata, can be seen as horizontal bands of differently colored or differently structured materials exposed in this cliff.

The deeper layers are older than the layers found at the top, which aids in determining the relative age of fossils found within the strata. Such index fossils must be distinctive, globally distributed, and occupy a short time range to be useful.

Ironically, given how supposedly useless carbon dating is claimed to be, Creation Ministries International rests part of their "101 Evidences" on carbon dating being a useful method for within several thousand years.

Geochronology is the science of determining the age of rocks, fossils, and sediments using signatures inherent in the rocks themselves.

For these samples, other dating methods must be used.

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