Radiocarbon dating limitations

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Some fossils consist only of skeletal remains or teeth; other fossils contain traces of skin, feathers or even soft tissues. In some cases the original remains of the organism completely dissolve or are otherwise destroyed.The remaining organism-shaped hole in the rock is called an external mold.If this hole is later filled with other minerals, it is a cast.An endocast or internal mold is formed when sediments or minerals fill the internal cavity of an organism, such as the inside of a bivalve or snail or the hollow of a skull. If the chemistry is right, the organism (or fragment of organism) can act as a nucleus for the precipitation of minerals such as siderite, resulting in a nodule forming around it.The development of radiometric dating techniques in the early 20th century allowed scientists to quantitatively measure the absolute ages of rocks and the fossils they host.There are many processes that lead to fossilization, including permineralization, casts and molds, authigenic mineralization, replacement and recrystalization, adpression, carbonization, and bioimmuration.

Permineralization is a process of fossilization that occurs when an organism is buried.

The empty spaces within an organism (spaces filled with liquid or gas during life) become filled with mineral-rich groundwater.

Minerals precipitate from the groundwater, occupying the empty spaces.

For this reason, one term covers the two modes of preservation: adpression.

Because of their antiquity, an unexpected exception to the alteration of an organism's tissues by chemical reduction of the complex organic molecules during fossilization has been the discovery of soft tissue in dinosaur fossils, including blood vessels, and the isolation of proteins and evidence for DNA fragments.

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