Although the recognition of fossils goes back hundreds of years, the systematic cataloguing and assignment of relative ages to different organisms from the distant past — paleontology — only dates back to the earliest part of the 19th century. The oldest undisputed fossils are from rocks dated around 3. The oldest well-understood fossils are from rocks dating back to around Ma, and the sedimentary record from that dating of fossils sea time forward is rich in fossil remains that provide a detailed record of the history of life.
However, as anyone who has gone hunting for fossils knows, that does not mean that all sedimentary rocks have visible fossils or that they are easy to find. Fossils alone cannot provide us with numerical ages of rocks, but over the past century geologists have acquired enough isotopic dates from rocks associated with fossil-bearing rocks such as igneous dykes cutting through sedimentary layers to be able to put specific time limits on most fossils.
Paleontologists have placed most of the divisions of the geological time scale at points in the fossil record where there are major changes in the type of organisms observed. If we can identify a fossil to the species level, or at least to the genus level, and we know the time period when the organism lived, we can assign a range of time to the rock.
That range might be dating of fossils sea time million years because some organisms survived for a very long time. If the rock we are studying has several types of fossils in it, and we can assign time ranges to those fossils, we might be able to narrow the time range for the age of the rock considerably.
Fossils themselves, and the sedimentary rocks they are found in, are very be used in dating because they are formed at a particular moment in time, during an. The oldest well-understood fossils are from rocks dating back to around Ma, and the sedimentary At that time, about 75% of marine species disappeared.
FOSSILS: how fossils are dated
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How Carbon Dating Works