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Carbon dating can also be used to tell the age of fossils, but there's a problem.
Carbon dating only works for fossils that are less than 60,000 years old, so carbon dating won't work if you find a dinosaur bone because dinosaurs lived on Earth millions of years ago.
Carbon 14 dating remains to be a powerful, dependable and widely applicable technique that is invaluable to archaeologists and other scientists.
The unstable and radioactive carbon 14, called radiocarbon, is a naturally occurring isotope of the element carbon.
You might be wondering how we know that the Iceman is more than 5,000 years old. Carbon dating is a way of telling the age of a once living thing by measuring the amount of carbon inside of it.
Carbon dating was such an important discovery that American scientist Willard Libby won the top science award called the Nobel Prize for discovering it.
Scientists know how fast carbon-14 decays, so by measuring how much of it is remaining in a dead organism, they can figure out how long it has been dead.
When scientists chipped the Iceman out of the block of ice he was found in, they tested his body to see how many carbon-14 atoms were remaining, which told them his age.
Carbon is an element that is found in every living thing on planet Earth.
Do you know what you have in common with a tree and a dog? Carbon is an element that is found in every living thing on planet Earth. One form of carbon inside living things is called carbon-14.
Carbon-14 is a radioactive form of carbon, which sounds scary, but it's not dangerous, it just means that it's not stable, so after an organism dies, carbon-14 decays or goes away.
Did you know that cloth and paper were once living things?
Cloth can be made from the wool of a sheep, or cotton, which is a plant. So when scientists find something wrapped in an old piece of cloth or find an old piece of paper with important writings on it, they can use carbon dating to find out when the items were used.