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The shells of live freshwater clams can, and often do, give anomalous radiocarbon results.

However, the reason for this is understood and the problem is restricted to only a few special cases, of which freshwater clams are the best-known example.

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Radiocarbon is not suitable for this purpose because it is only applicable: a) on a time scale of thousands of years and b) to remains of once-living organisms (with minor exceptions, from which rocks are excluded).For example, a sample with a true radiocarbon age of 100,000 radiocarbon years will yield a measured radiocarbon age of about 20,000 radiocarbon years if the sample is contaminated with a weight of modern carbon of just 5% of the weight of the sample's carbon.It is not too difficult to supply contaminating radiocarbon since it is present in relatively high concentrations in the air and in the tissues of all living things including any individuals handling the sample.This gives the clam shell an artificially old radiocarbon age.This problem, known as the "," is not of very great practical importance for radiocarbon dating since most of the artifacts which are useful for radiocarbon dating purposes and are of interest to archaeology derive from terrestrial organisms which ultimately obtain their carbon atoms from air, not the water. Samples of coal have been found with radiocarbon ages of only 20,000 radiocarbon years or less, thus proving the recent origin of fossil fuels, probably in the Flood.

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