Fossil dating methods archaeology

Mountains have been built and eroded, continents and oceans have moved great distances, and the Earth has fluctuated from being extremely cold and almost completely covered with ice to being very warm and ice-free.

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.

Some critics, particularly religious fundamentalists, argue that neither fossils nor dating can be trusted, and that their interpretations are better.

Other critics, perhaps more familiar with the data, question certain aspects of the quality of the fossil record and of its dating.

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.

Stratigraphy is the oldest of the relative dating methods that archaeologists use to date things.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.For more information on stratigraphy and how it is used in archaeology, see the Stratigraphy glossary entry.Absolute dating is the process of determining an age on a specified chronology in archaeology and geology.

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