These changes typically occur so slowly that they are barely detectable over the span of a human life, yet even at this instant, the Earth's surface is moving and changing.As these changes have occurred, organisms have evolved, and remnants of some have been preserved as fossils.
SYNONYMS OR RELATED TERMS: chronometric dating; absolute dates; absolute chronology; absolute age determination (antonym: relative dating)CATEGORY: chronology; technique DEFINITION: The determination of age with reference to a specific time scale, such as a fixed calendrical system or in years before present (B.
P., BP), based on measurable physical and chemical qualities or historical associations such as coins and written records.
Cultural seriations are based on typologies, in which artifacts that are numerous across a wide variety of sites and over time, like pottery or stone tools.
If archaeologists know how pottery styles, glazes, and techniques have changed over time they can date sites based on the ratio of different kinds of pottery.
Since certain species of animals existed on Earth at specific times in history, the fossils or remains of such animals embedded within those successive layers of rock also help scientists determine the age of the layers.
Similarly, pollen grains released by seed-bearing plants became fossilized in rock layers.For example, based on the primate fossil record, scientists know that living primates evolved from fossil primates and that this evolutionary history took tens of millions of years.By comparing fossils of different primate species, scientists can examine how features changed and how primates evolved through time.A fossil can be studied to determine what kind of organism it represents, how the organism lived, and how it was preserved.However, by itself a fossil has little meaning unless it is placed within some context.Relative dating methods allow one to determine if an object is earlier than, later than, or contemporary with some other object.