Isotopes in carbon dating
Radiocarbon decays slowly in a living organism, and the amount lost is continually replenished as long as the organism takes in air or food.Once the organism dies, however, it ceases to absorb carbon-14, so that the amount of the radiocarbon in its tissues steadily decreases.These isotopes have longer half-lives and so are found in greater abundance in older fossils.
Because carbon-14 decays at this constant rate, an estimate of the date at which an organism died can be made by measuring the amount of its residual radiocarbon.As stated previously, carbon dating cannot be used on artifacts over about 50,000 years old.These artifacts have gone through many carbon-14 half-lives, and the amount of carbon-14 remaining in them is miniscule and very difficult to detect.The various confounding factors that can adversely affect the accuracy of carbon-14 dating methods are evident in many of the other radioisotope dating methods.
Although the half-life of some of them are more consistent with the evolutionary worldview of millions to billions of years, the assumptions used in radiometric dating put the results of all radiometric dating methods in doubt. Although the half-life of carbon-14 makes it unreliable for dating fossils over about 50,000 years old, there are other isotopes scientists use to date older artifacts.
Once our geologist had the “index fossil” that was found approximately in the same layer as the newly discovered fossil, he would then see where in the geologic column it came from and presto, he now had a date for his newly discovered fossil.