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So, scientists can estimate the age of the fossil by looking at the level of decay in its radioactive a technique used by scientists to learn the ages of biological specimens – for example, wooden archaeological artifacts or ancient human remains – from the distant past.The approximate time since the organism died can be worked out by measuring the amount of carbon-14 left in its remains compared to the amount in living organisms.

Isotopes of a particular element have the same number of protons in their nucleus, but different numbers of neutrons.

This means that although they are very similar chemically, they have different masses.

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.

The amount of carbon-14 in the air has stayed the same for thousands of years.