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Dating Fossils

Human Biology (Year 12) - Other Evidence for Evolution

Ben Whitten

What is fossil dating?

To place fossils and artefacts into the correct geological sequence, they need to be dated using a combination of different dating techniques (placing timeframes on fossils and artefacts).

  • Dating is the process of determining the age of an excavated artefact or fossil, where the two main forms of dating include relative and absolute dating

  • Absolute dating involves determining the actual age of a fossil or artefact in years, e.g. the fossil is 1.5 million years old, whereas relative dating involves determining whether one fossil or artefact is older or younger than another, e.g. fossil A is older than fossil B

What is the geological time scale?

A lot of the evidence for evolution comes from fossil and artefact records which need to be dated to fit into the period since the beginning of the earth.

Due to the huge time span, the Earth’s geological history has been divided into a geological time scale.

This consists of eras, which are further divided into periods, which are subdivided further into epochs – a particular time span can be described as early or late (early indicating that it’s further back in time, late indicating that it’s closer to the present).

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