This date marks the end of the Cenozoic Era and the Pleistocene Period on the geologic time scale.

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Within three weeks, there will be nothing left but a few small bones." A fossil normally preserves only a portion of an organism, usually that portion that was partially mineralized during life, such as bones and teeth.

Trace fossils are the marks left by a living organism, such as feces, footprints or impressions of feathers or leaves.

When scientists first began to compare carbon dating data to data from tree rings, they found carbon dating provided "too-young" estimates of artifact age.

Scientists now realize that production of carbon-14 has not been constant over the years, but has changed as the radiation from the sun has fluctuated.

Radiocarbon dates come from organic matter that contain the element carbon.

Ice cores, pollen, wood, hair, bone, shell, bird egg shell, and coral are some of the things datable by this technology which depends on measuring the atomic decay rate of carbon isotopes.

Nuclear tests, nuclear reactors and the use of nuclear weapons have also changed the composition of radioisotopes in the air over the last few decades.

This human nuclear activity will make precise dating of fossils from our lifetime very difficult due to contamination of the normal radioisotope composition of the earth with addition artificially produced radioactive atoms.

Scientist Olivia Judson provides this good example of what happens to an adult male gorilla in the tropical rainforests of the Congo; "An adult male gorilla— all 330 pounds of him—will be reduced to a pile of bones and hair within 10 days of his death.

What scavengers like vultures and hyenas leave behind, flies, ants, worms, and bacteria quickly consume.

The age of the carbon in the rock is different from that of the carbon in the air and makes carbon dating data for those organisms inaccurate under the assumptions normally used for carbon dating.