By measuring the ratio of the amount of the original isotope to the amount of the isotopes that it breaks down into an age can be determined.
While people are most familiar with carbon dating, carbon dating is rarely applicable to fossils.
This type of preservation is common among plant fossils.
Unaltered Preservation - The original material of the organism has not been changed to another substance.
Absolute Dating Absolute dating is used to determine a precise age of a fossil through radiometric methods.
This uses radioactive minerals in the rocks and fossils almost like a geological clock.
fossil (latin for "obtained by digging") is the preserved remains or traces of organisms (plants, animals, etc) that lived in the distant past.
These isotopes break down at a very consistent rate over time through radioactive decay.
There are two main types of dating: Relative Dating The majority of the time fossils are dated using relative dating techniques.
Using relative dating the fossil is compared to something for which the age is already known.
Very rare, and typically found in very recent fossils.
Some examples include freezing (woolly mammoths in the permafrost), mummification, fossilization in amber.