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P1 Scientists continue to debate the history of man It is generally agreed upon by the scientific community however that humans evolved from lesser beings and this essay will function to provide evidence to support this claim Several points will be outlined including the general physical changes that occurred between several key species on the phylogeny of man and a discussion of dating methods used to pinpoint the age of the fossils This essay will begin with a brief discussion of dating techniques In the study of hominid evolution two main methods of dating are used carbon-14 and potassium-argon dating Carbon-14 dating involves the decay of radioactive C-14 which has a half-life of 5770 years This makes this method useful for dating of recent fossils with good accuracy up to 50000 years back After 5770 years half of the carbon-14 in a fossil decays to nitrogen-14 Since the ratio of carbon-12 to carbon-14 in a living organism remains the same as in the environment around them because the organism constantly eats and replenishes it if it were to die the ratio would change greatly after many years It is the difference between this ratio now and the time is died p2 that allows a date for it to be established Potassium-argon dating another dating method is possible due to volcanic ash and rocks found near many fossil sites Rocks and ash created in this manner contain potassium-40 but no argon As time passes the potassium-40 decays into argon-40 In the laboratory the sample is reheated and since argon-40 is a gas it is released The ratio of argon-40 released to potassium-40 still present allows for a date to be assigned to objects near the sample However due to potassiums high half-life 13 billion years it is only useful as a dating technique for finds older than 500000 years old Also it is only useful where volcanic activity existed
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