Radiocarbon dating of fossils

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Scientist Olivia Judson provides this good example of what happens to an adult male gorilla in the tropical rainforests of the Congo; "An adult male gorilla— all 330 pounds of him—will be reduced to a pile of bones and hair within 10 days of his death.

Fossils, by definition, are the remains or traces of organisms that lived at least 10,000 years ago.The atoms of some chemical elements have different forms, called isotopes.These break down over time in a process scientists call radioactive decay.Geologists often need to know the age of material that they find.They use absolute dating methods, sometimes called numerical dating, to give rocks an actual date, or date range, in number of years.

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