Let's find out more about these geological dating methods in order to understand how Paul the Paleontologist can be so sure about the age of his dinosaur fossils.
PALEONTOLOGY, AND in particular the study of dinosaurs, is an exciting topic to people of all ages.
As these changes have occurred, organisms have evolved, and remnants of some have been preserved as fossils.
A fossil can be studied to determine what kind of organism it represents, how the organism lived, and how it was preserved.
Now imagine that you come upon a formation like this: What do you think of it? How can you make any conclusions about rock layers that make such a crazy arrangement?
Geologists establish the age of rocks in two ways: numerical dating and relative dating.
Understanding the ages of related fossil species helps scientists piece together the evolutionary history of a group of organisms.
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.
Consider the following scenario: Paul the Paleontologist is a very famous scientist who has studied dinosaur bones all over the world.
Recently, he appeared on the evening news to talk about a new dinosaur he just discovered. Paul says he can tell from the fossils that superus awesomus lived on Earth about 175 million years ago.
However, by itself a fossil has little meaning unless it is placed within some context.
The age of the fossil must be determined so it can be compared to other fossil species from the same time period.
We'll explore both relative and numerical dating on our quest to understand the process of geological dating.