An example of radiocarbon dating
So, the fossil is 8,680 years old, meaning the living organism died 8,680 years ago.
date of organic material - but an approximate age, usually within a range of a few years either way.
Radiocarbon dating can be used on samples of bone, cloth, wood and plant fibers.
When isotopes are to be designated specifically, the chemical symbol is expanded to identify the mass (for example, C is not stable.
The other method is “Relative Dating” which gives an order of events without giving an exact age (1): typically artefact typology or the study of the sequence of the evolution of fossils.
There are three carbon isotopes that occur as part of the Earth's natural processes; these are carbon-12, carbon-13 and carbon-14.
When an organism dies it ceases to replenish carbon in its tissues and the decay of carbon 14 to nitrogen 14 changes the ratio of carbon 12 to carbon 14.
Experts can compare the ratio of carbon 12 to carbon 14 in dead material to the ratio when the organism was alive to estimate the date of its death.