Familiar to us as the black substance in charred wood, as diamonds, and the graphite in “lead” pencils, carbon comes in several forms, or isotopes.One rare form has atoms that are 14 times as heavy as hydrogen atoms: carbon-14, or C ratio gets smaller.Later called Ötzi the Iceman, small samples from his body were carbon dated by scientists.
Paleontology seeks to map out how life evolved across geologic time.
A substantial hurdle is the difficulty of working out fossil ages.
So, we have a “clock” which starts ticking the moment something dies.
Obviously, this works only for things which were once living.
Radiocarbon dating cannot be used for older specimens, because so little carbon-14 remains in samples that it cannot be reliably measured.
Creationists often criticize radiocarbon dating in the context of discussions of the age of the earth.
If a fossil is found between two layers of rock whose ages are known, the fossil's age is thought to be between those two known ages.
Because rock sequences are not continuous, but may be broken up by faults or periods of erosion, it is difficult to match up rock beds that are not directly adjacent.
In discussions of the age of the earth and the antiquity of the human race, creationists often assail perceived weaknesses in radiocarbon dating. Morris, for instance, wrote, "Despite its high popularity, [radiocarbon dating] involves a number of doubtful assumptions, some of which are sufficiently serious to make its results for all ages exceeding about 2000 or 3000 years, in serious need of revision." [Morris2000, pg. Radiocarbon dating is based on the fact that the interaction of cosmic rays from outer space with nitrogen atoms in the atmosphere produces an unstable isotope of carbon, namely radiocarbon.
Since it is chemically indistinguishable from the stable isotopes of carbon (carbon-12 and carbon-13), radiocarbon is taken by plants during photosynthesis and then ingested by animals regularly throughout their lifetimes.
When a plant or animal organism dies, however, the exchange of radiocarbon from the atmosphere and the biosphere stops, and the amount of radiocarbon gradually decreases, with a half-life of approximately 5730 years.