Biology as Poetry: Paleontology

Bacteriophage Ecology Group

Dating Fossils

Determination of relative or absolute age of the remains of ancient organisms.

There has been a substantial interlocking of the study of geology and that of paleontology, where, on the one hand, fossils have been used to establish a geological record. On the other hand, geology is employed to absolute date older fossils, particularly those that are greater than ~60,000 years old, i.e., for which radiocarbon dating is not useful.

Geology, and the law of superposition, furthermore form the basis of relative dating, that is, determination of which fossils are older and which are younger, but without assigning an absolute date. At the same time, strata all around the world can be correlated, that is, relative dated, based upon the types of fossils that are present. In this way geology can be a worldwide rather than simply local study (though note that this use of fossils by geologists was far more crucial prior to the development of absolute dating techniques which allow the assignment of actual ages to suitable strata). See also macroevolution.

Above all, a key and crucial step involved in the study of fossils is determining the age of a fossil. Without an age then it is not possible to ascertain what may have been the specimen's ancestor species or descendant species, that is, how specific fossils fit into the overall development of life of planet Earth.

For more on this topic, see Wikipedia  and Google.  Contact web master.  Return to home.