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This carbon is combined with other elements in complex ways to form organic molecules important to life.
As we learned earlier, the most abundant substance in organisms is water. Much of the solid portions of lifeforms is made up of great amounts of carbon. Carbon is extracted from the atmosphere by plants through the process known as photosynthesis.When plants and animals die, much of their carbon is returned to the atmosphere as the organisms decompose.Every so often, a plant or animal does not decompose right away.Organisms at the base of the food chain that photosynthesize – for example, plants and algae – use the carbon in Earth’s atmosphere.They have the same ratio of carbon-14 to carbon-12 as the atmosphere, and this same ratio is then carried up the food chain all the way to apex predators, like sharks.