What is the difference between relative and absolute dating techniques

Using relative dating the fossil is compared to something for which an age is already known.For example if you have a fossil trilobite and it was found in the Wheeler Formation.These isotopes break down at a constant rate over time through radioactive decay.By measuring the ratio of the amount of the original (parent) isotope to the amount of the (daughter) isotopes that it breaks down into an age can be determined.For example, based on the primate fossil record, scientists know that living primates evolved from fossil primates and that this evolutionary history took tens of millions of years.By comparing fossils of different primate species, scientists can examine how features changed and how primates evolved through time.Potassium-40 on the other hand has a half like of 1.25 billion years and is common in rocks and minerals.

If the fossil you are trying to date occurs alongside one of these index fossils, then the fossil you are dating must fall into the age range of the index fossil. In a hypothetical example, a rock formation contains fossils of a type of brachiopod known to occur between 410 and 420 million years.

Then after another 5,000 years half of the remaining parent isotope will have decayed.

While people are most familiar with carbon dating, carbon dating is rarely applicable to fossils.

A fossil can be studied to determine what kind of organism it represents, how the organism lived, and how it was preserved.

However, by itself a fossil has little meaning unless it is placed within some context.

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