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Since fossils also contain many other elements, scientists also use these factors to determine date going as far back as 2.2 billion years!
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However, the method used by Simonetti and his colleagues determined that the New Mexico plant eating dinosaur was alive roughly 700,000 years after the surmised giant extinction event.
Although the challenge to the accepted dinosaur extinction model has received the most attention, Simonetti believes that the dating method described in the paper is especially significant.
This means that when they measure the radiocarbon decay rate in a fossil, they can estimate how long ago it died.
The method of radiocarbon dating works best for fossils that have been around for a maximum of fifty thousand years.
Antonio Simonetti, a research associate professor in the Department of Civil Engineering and Geological Sciences at the University of Notre Dame, is the coauthor of an important new paper describing a novel method for age dating dinosaur fossils.
Simonetti and colleagues from the University of Alberta used a U-Pb (uranium-lead) dating technique to analyze a fossilized dinosaur bone discovered in New Mexico.
In some cases, if this is impossible, they leave it embedded in the rock or amber, and simply take that entire piece with them to a laboratory for further examination.
Sometimes a fossil might only be a few parts of an animal.
However, like most other things, radioactive carbon also decays, although at a very slow rate.
Scientists know the exact rate of radiocarbon decay.
In a paper in the prestigious journal Geology, the researchers discuss their method and reveal that it determined that the femur bone from a giant hadrosaur dinosaur was 64.8 million years old.