Dating a fossil

Older dates may change by a few million years up and down, but younger dates are stable.

For example, it has been known since the 1960s that the famous Cretaceous-Tertiary boundary, the line marking the end of the dinosaurs, was 65 million years old.

New discoveries have filled in the gaps, and shown us in unimaginable detail the shape of the great ‘tree of life’.

Darwin and his contemporaries could never have imagined the improvements in resolution of stratigraphy that have come since 1859, nor guessed what fossils were to be found in the southern continents, nor predicted the huge increase in the number of amateur and professional paleontologists worldwide.

Also includes info on how fossils are formed, the “cleaning, preparing, & repairing” of fossils, and other useful resources.

is any preserved remains, impression, or trace of any once-living thing from a past geological age.

If the fossils, or the dating of the fossils, could be shown to be inaccurate, all such information would have to be rejected as unsafe.

Fossils can also show us how major crises, such as mass extinctions, happened, and how life recovered after them.Results from different techniques, often measured in rival labs, continually confirm each other.Every few years, new geologic time scales are published, providing the latest dates for major time lines.These demonstrate that, of course, we do not know everything (and clearly never will), but we know enough.Today, innovative techniques provide further confirmation and understanding of the history of life.

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Repeated, and tough, regimes of testing have confirmed the broad accuracy of the fossils and their dating, so we can read the history of life from the rocks with confidence. Educators have permission to reprint articles for classroom use; other users, please contact [email protected] reprint permission. Currently, he is studying certain basal dinosaurs from the Late Triassic and the quality of different segments of the fossil record.

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