Definition relative dating fossils

Relative fossil dating is different from absolute dating, in one important way: Absolute dating gives you a number (for example, carbon dating a fossil to 50 million years ago).Relative dating puts the fossil in context---what lived before it, and what lived after. These events may be paleontological (relating to ancient life, like dinosaur extinction); geographical (relating to earth and natural environment, like eruptions and the Ice Age); and archaeological (relating to ancient society and structures, like the appearance of the Maya).

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Many of these organisms have left their remains as fossils in sedimentary rocks.

Geologists have studied the order in which fossils appeared and disappeared through time and rocks. Fossils can help to match rocks of the same age, even when you find those rocks a long way apart.

The method of reading the order is called stratigraphy (layers of rock are called strata).

Relative dating does not provide actual numerical dates for the rocks.

Fossils are important for working out the relative ages of sedimentary rocks.

Throughout the history of life, different organisms have appeared, flourished and become extinct.

For example, microscopic dinoflagellates have been studied and dated in great detail around the world.

Correlation with them has helped geologists date many New Zealand rocks, including those containing dinosaurs.

Correlation can involve matching an undated rock with a dated one at another location.

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