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By measuring the amount of carbon-14 remaining, scientists can pinpoint the exact date of the organism's death.
The rings form a distinctive pattern, which is the same for all members in a given species and geographical area.
Radioactive decay: The predictable manner in which a population of atoms of a radioactive element spontaneously disintegrate over time.
Stratigraphy: Study of layers of rocks or the objects embedded within those layers.
When the organism dies, the supply stops, and the carbon-14 contained in the organism begins to spontaneously decay into nitrogen-14.
The time it takes for one-half of the carbon-14 to decay (a period called a half-life) is 5,730 years.