You’ve seen them in the magazines, on television, in the museums and maybe you’ve even held one in your hands. A question that often arises is “How do scientists determine the age of a dinosaur bone?” That’s what we’ll briefly explore in this month’s article. We know, for instance, that fire is hot, the moon orbits the Earth and chocolate ice cream is much better than plain vanilla.Levels of carbon-14 become difficult to measure and compare after about 50,000 years (between 8 and 9 half lives; where 1% of the original carbon-14 would remain undecayed).The question should be whether or not carbon-14 can be used to date any artifacts at all? There are a few categories of artifacts that can be dated using carbon-14; however, they cannot be more 50,000 years old.Carbon-14 cannot be used to date biological artifacts of organisms that did not get their carbon dioxide from the air.
This technique is widely used on recent artifacts, but educators and students alike should note that this technique will not work on older fossils (like those of the dinosaurs alleged to be millions of years old).
In a paper in the prestigious journal Geology, the researchers discuss their method and reveal that it determined that the femur bone from a giant hadrosaur dinosaur was 64.8 million years old.
The finding has caused a significant stir in scientific circles.
The current method paleontologists use to date dinosaur fossils is a technique called relative chronology.
The method estimates a fossils age relative to the known age of deposits of sediment in which it was found.