Ways of dating fossils
One of the biggest jobs of a geologist is establishing the absolute age, in years, of a rock or fossil.
Unlike relative dating, which only tells us the age of rock A compared to rock B, numerical dating tells us the age of rock A in x number of years.
Along the way, we'll learn how stratigraphic succession and radioactive decay contribute to the work of paleontologists.
Consider the following scenario: Paul the Paleontologist is a very famous scientist who has studied dinosaur bones all over the world.
But really, how do scientists figure out how old their dinosaur bones are?
And, what about other findings like fossil fish, plants and insects?
The key in relative dating is to find an ordered sequence.Scientists know that the layers they see in sedimentary rock were built up in a certain order, from bottom to top.When they find a section of rock that has a lot of different strata, they can assume that the bottom-most layer is the oldest and the top-most layer is the youngest.The first method that scientists use to determine the age of rocks is relative dating.