Sometimes, scientists already know the age of the fossil because fossils of the same species have been found elsewhere and it has been possible to establish accurately from those when the dinosaur lived.
So, when looking at the history of a cliff face, it is important to read the story it tells from the bottom layer up.
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Half-life is the amount of time it takes for half of the parent isotopes to decay. In another 5,730 years, the organism will lose another half of the remaining C-14 isotopes.
This process continues over time, with the organism losing half of the remaining C-14 isotopes each 5,730 years.
The mass spectrometer is able to give information about the type and amount of isotopes found in the rock.