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Community Community standards Republishing guidelines Friends of The Conversation Research and Expert Database Analytics Events Our feeds Donate Company Who we are Our charter Our team Our blog Partners and funders Resource for media Contact us Stay informed and subscribe to our free daily newsletter and get the latest analysis and commentary directly in your inbox. Samples that have been radiocarbon dated since the inception of the method include charcoal , wood , twigs, seeds , bones , shells , leather, peat , lake mud, soil , hair, pottery , pollen , wall paintings, corals, blood residues, fabrics , paper or parchment, resins, and water , among others. When the animal or plant dies, it stops exchanging carbon with its environment, and from that point onwards the amount of 14 C it contains begins to decrease as the 14 C undergoes radioactive decay. Since the surface ocean is depleted in 14 C because of the marine effect, 14 C is removed from the southern atmosphere more quickly than in the north.