Relative versus absolute dating

PALEONTOLOGY, AND in particular the study of dinosaurs, is an exciting topic to people of all ages.

Although most attention in today's world focuses on dinosaurs and why they became extinct, the world of paleontology includes many other interesting organisms which tell us about Earth's past history.

By matching partial sequences, the truly oldest layers with fossils can be worked out.

By correlating fossils from various parts of the world, scientists are able to give relative ages to particular strata. Relative dating tells scientists if a rock layer is "older" or "younger" than another.

This would also mean that fossils found in the deepest layer of rocks in an area would represent the oldest forms of life in that particular rock formation.

In reading earth history, these layers would be "read" from bottom to top or oldest to most recent.

Scientific measurements such as radiometric dating use the natural radioactivity of certain elements found in rocks to help determine their age.

This relative time scale divides the vast amount of earth history into various sections based on geological events (sea encroachments, mountain-building, and depositional events), and notable biological events (appearance, relative abundance, or extinction of certain life forms).

Objectives: When you complete this activity, you will be able to: (1) sequence information using items which overlap specific sets; (2) relate sequencing to the Law of Superposition; and (3) show how fossils can be used to give relative dates to rock layers.

If the letters "T" and "C" represent fossils in the oldest rock layer, they are the oldest fossils, or the first fossils formed in the past for this sequence of rock layers. Now, look for a card that has either a "T" or "C" written on it.

Since this card has a common letter with the first card, it must go on top of the "TC" card.

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