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Carbon-14, a radioactive form of the element carbon, is created in the atmosphere by cosmic rays (invisible, high-energy particles that constantly bombard Earth from all directions in space).

When carbon-14 falls to Earth, it is absorbed by plants.

Since certain species of animals existed on Earth at specific times in history, the fossils or remains of such animals embedded within those successive layers of rock also help scientists determine the age of the layers.Cosmic rays: Invisible, high-energy particles that constantly bombard Earth from all directions in space.Dendrochronology: Also known as tree-ring dating, the science concerned with determining the age of trees by examining their growth rings.As long as an organism is alive, the supply of carbon-14 is replenished.When the organism dies, the supply stops, and the carbon-14 contained in the organism begins to spontaneously decay into nitrogen-14.

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