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While the oldest known rocks on Earth are about 3.5 billion years old, researchers have found zircon crystals that are 4.3 billion years old [source: USGS].

Based on the analysis of these samples, scientists estimate that the Earth itself is about 4.5 billion years old.

Additional fee is charged for collagen or bone carbonate extraction.

The d13C and d15N ratios are measured using an isotope ratio mass spectrometer (IRMS).

Dinosaur bones, on the other hand, are millions of years old -- some fossils are billions of years old.

To determine the ages of these specimens, scientists need an isotope with a very long half-life.

Other techniques include analyzing amino acids and measuring changes in an object's magnetic field.

The % collagen yield value should not be used as a unique identifier of bone collagen quality because it can be very misleading.Each of them typically exists in igneous rock, or rock made from cooled magma.Fossils, however, form in sedimentary rock -- sediment quickly covers a dinosaur's body, and the sediment and the bones gradually turn into rock.The extreme temperatures of the magma would just destroy the bones.So to determine the age of sedimentary rock layers, researchers first have to find neighboring layers of Earth that include igneous rock, such as volcanic ash.

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