Paleontology seeks to map out how life evolved across geologic time. A substantial hurdle is the difficulty of working out fossil ages. Scientists use carbon dating when determining the age of fossils that are less than 60,000 years old, and that are composed of organic materials such as wood or leather.
What kind of dating do paleontologists use?
radiometric dating Relative dating is used to determine a fossils approximate age by comparing it to similar rocks and fossils of known ages. Absolute dating is used to determine a precise age of a fossil by using radiometric dating to measure the decay of isotopes, either within the fossil or more often the rocks associated with it.
Do geologists use carbon dating?
Geologists do not use carbon-based radiometric dating to determine the age of rocks. Carbon dating only works for objects that are younger than about 50,000 years, and most rocks of interest are older than that.
How do paleontologists date fossils?
Because fossils are usually found in sedimentary rock layers, paleontologists can date them by examining the minerals above or below the sedimentary rock. Zircon, a mineral commonly found in igneous rocks, proves particularly useful. As zircon forms in cooling magma, its crystal structure contains uranium but no lead.
How do you date dinosaur remains?
Fossils themselves, and the sedimentary rocks they are found in, are very difficult to date directly. Instead, other methods are used to work out a fossils age. These include radiometric dating of volcanic layers above or below the fossils or by comparisons to similar rocks and fossils of known ages.