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Y., reported today in the British journal Nature that some estimates of age based on carbon analyses were wrong by as much as 3,500 years.
But, carbon dating can't be used to date either rocks or fossils.
It is only useful for once-living things which still contain carbon, like flesh or bone or wood.
It is too soon to know whether the discovery will seriously upset the estimated dates of events like the arrival of human beings in the Western Hemisphere, scientists said.
But it is already clear that the carbon method of dating will have to be recalibrated and corrected in some cases.