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How do scientists determine the age of fossils?

Community Manager
Community Manager

How do scientists determine the age of fossils? Is one method preferred over another? 


Involved Contributor
Involved Contributor

It depends on the kind of fossil, sample availability, conservation of the specimen and the age of it. For example, carbon-14 dates could be useful for those materiales younger than 40,000 years and well conserved. Uranium-thorium isotope ratios (uranium series) can be measured to estimate the minimum age of fossils younger than 500,000 y. The most powerful techniques for U-Series are based on mass spectrometry MC ICP-MS or TIMS (Thermo NEPTUNE or Thermo TIMS), but not limited to them. Also other techniques can be applied for fossil age determination like Electron Paramagnetic Resonance (EPR / ESR) for certain fossils, and other isotope systems (U-Pb) by ICP-MS techniques are also commonly used for older fossils.

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