How do scientists use carbon dating

For example, in 1991, two hikers discovered a mummified man, preserved for centuries in the ice on an alpine mountain.Later called Ötzi the Iceman, small samples from his body were carbon dated by scientists.Therefore, the radiocarbon level in those tissues post-mortem would indicate the year of death.The researchers found that year-of-death determinations based on nails were accurate to within three years.Such insects are simply another link in the food chain.Thus, pupal case radiocarbon content would serve as a decay-resistant proxy for the tissues, yielding the year of death.Thus, their radiocarbon levels mirror those in the changing environment.

The researchers found that if they assumed tooth enamel radiocarbon content to be determined by the atmospheric level at the time the tooth was formed, then they could deduce the year of birth.

The carbon-14 it contained at the time of death decays over a long period of time.

By measuring the amount of carbon-14 left in dead organic material the approximate time since it died can be worked out.

They found that for teeth formed after 1965, enamel radiocarbon content predicted year of birth within 1.5 years.

Radiocarbon levels in teeth formed before then contained less radiocarbon than expected, so when applied to teeth formed during that period, the method was less precise.

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The generally poor post-mortem preservation of soft tissues would be a limiting factor to this approach.

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