Dating of fossils by scientists

However, "relative" dating or time can be an easy concept for students to learn.In this activity, students begin a sequencing activity with familiar items — letters written on cards.Scientists have developed more than a dozen methods for determining the age of fossils, human artifacts, and the sediments in which such evidence is found.These methods can date objects millions of years old.Geologists call this the principle of lateral continuity.

Despite seeming like a relatively stable place, the Earth's surface has changed dramatically over the past 4.6 billion years.

Scientists use two kinds of dating techniques to work out the age of rocks and fossils. This considers the positions of the different rocks in sequence (in relation to each other) and the different types of fossil that are found in them.

The second method is called absolute dating and is done by analysing the amount of radioactive decay in the minerals of the rocks.

Once they are able to manipulate the cards into the correct sequence, they are asked to do a similar sequencing activity using fossil pictures printed on "rock layer" cards.

Sequencing the rock layers will show students how paleontologists use fossils to give relative dates to rock strata.

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