Fossil dating information chart answers


This would also mean that fossils found in the deepest layer of rocks in an area would represent the oldest forms of life in that particular rock formation. In reading earth history, these layers would be "read" from bottom to top or oldest to most recent. If certain fossils are typically found only in a particular rock unit and are found in many places worldwide, they may be useful as index or guide fossils in determining the age of undated strata.

By using this information from rock formations in various parts of the world and correlating the studies, scientists have been able to establish the geologic time scale. This relative time scale divides the vast amount of earth history into various sections based on geological events sea encroachments, mountain-building, and depositional events , and notable biological events appearance, relative abundance, or extinction of certain life forms.

When you complete this activity, you will be able to: The first card in the sequence has "Card 1, Set A" in the lower left-hand corner and represents the bottom of the sequence. If the letters "T" and "C" represent fossils in the oldest rock layer, they are the oldest fossils, or the first fossils formed in the past for this sequence of rock layers. Now, look for a card that has either a "T" or "C" written on it.


Since this card has a common letter with the first card, it must go on top of the "TC" card. The fossils represented by the letters on this card are "younger" than the "T" or "C" fossils on the "TC" card which represents fossils in the oldest rock layer. Sequence the remaining cards by using the same process. When you finish, you should have a vertical stack of cards with the top card representing the youngest fossils of this rock sequence and the "TC" card at the bottom of the stack representing the oldest fossils.

Starting with the top card, the letters should be in order from youngest to oldest. Return to top Procedure Set B: Each card represents a particular rock layer with a collection of fossils that are found in that particular rock stratum. All of the fossils represented would be found in sedimentary rocks of marine origin. Figure 2-A gives some background information on the individual fossils. The letters on the other cards have no significance to the sequencing procedure and should be ignored at this time.

Find a rock layer that has at least one of the fossils you found in the oldest rock layer. This rock layer would be younger as indicated by the appearance of new fossils in the rock stratum. Keep in mind that extinction is forever. Once an organism disappears from the sequence it cannot reappear later.

Use this information to sequence the cards in a vertical stack of fossils in rock strata. Arrange them from oldest to youngest with the oldest layer on the bottom and the youngest on top. This happens at any time when addition of the fleeting "weak nuclear force" to the ever-present electrostatic repulsion exceeds the binding energy required to hold the nucleus together. In other words, during million years, half the U atoms that existed at the beginning of that time will decay to Pb This is known as the half life of U- Many elements have some isotopes that are unstable, essentially because they have too many neutrons to be balanced by the number of protons in the nucleus.

Each of these unstable isotopes has its own characteristic half life. Some half lives are several billion years long, and others are as short as a ten-thousandth of a second. On a piece of notebook paper, each piece should be placed with the printed M facing down. This represents the parent isotope. The candy should be poured into a container large enough for them to bounce around freely, it should be shaken thoroughly, then poured back onto the paper so that it is spread out instead of making a pile.

This first time of shaking represents one half life, and all those pieces of candy that have the printed M facing up represent a change to the daughter isotope. Then, count the number of pieces of candy left with the M facing down. These are the parent isotope that did not change during the first half life.

The teacher should have each team report how many pieces of parent isotope remain, and the first row of the decay table Figure 2 should be filled in and the average number calculated. The same procedure of shaking, counting the "survivors", and filling in the next row on the decay table should be done seven or eight more times. Each time represents a half life. Each team should plot on a graph Figure 3 the number of pieces of candy remaining after each of their "shakes" and connect each successive point on the graph with a light line.

AND, on the same graph, each group should plot points where, after each "shake" the starting number is divided by exactly two and connect these points by a differently colored line. After the graphs are plotted, the teacher should guide the class into thinking about: Is it the single group's results, or is it the line based on the class average? U is found in most igneous rocks. Unless the rock is heated to a very high temperature, both the U and its daughter Pb remain in the rock. A geologist can compare the proportion of U atoms to Pb produced from it and determine the age of the rock.

The next part of this exercise shows how this is done.

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Each team is given a piece of paper marked TIME, on which is written either 2, 4, 6, 8, or 10 minutes. The team should place each marked piece so that "U" is showing. This represents Uranium, which emits a series of particles from the nucleus as it decays to Lead Pb- When each team is ready with the pieces all showing "U", a timed two-minute interval should start. During that time each team turns over half of the U pieces so that they now show Pb This represents one "half-life" of U, which is the time for half the nuclei to change from the parent U to the daughter Pb A new two-minute interval begins.

What are the different fossil dating techniques and how accurate are they?


How accurate is fossil-dating? Several techniques are used. If you want the rundown on how we learned to do this, I recommend Simon Winchester's highly readable nonfiction book The Map that Changed the World , which is about the birth of stratigraphy as a field of study and how we came to know that our Earth is billions of years old. The key insight here is that usually the rocks closer to the surface are NEWER than the deep-down layers, because rocks are formed by gradual deposition from up here where we walk around and drop stuff.

So if you draw a diagram of what the layer-cake looks like near where you live, and then go fifty miles away and draw what THAT layer-cake looks like, and so on, you've collected a bunch of specific samples of the history of the rocks in your area, like looking at tree rings. Certain kinds of fossils are only ever found in certain layers of rock because, we now know, that layer was laid down in the time period where that fossil lived. Distinctive fossils are one way we can match up fossil layer-cake diagrams from one area to another, because if a fossil only ever lived at one time, then you can line up the diagrams and see which other layers are consistently older, or consistently younger, than that distinctive layer.

So far, so good, but that only gives RELATIVE dating which thing is always older than what other thing -- like an alphabetic order, although not all areas have all layers of rock in them.


Because we have such good, large datasets about differing relative dating, you can get pretty close on other layers if you can absolute-date just one or two layers in the cake. This is where radioactive isotopes come in. Let's say you have a single atom of a radioactive isotope, say carbon I'm going to skip the very technical parts to save some space, but what makes it "radioactive" is that it tends to decay to the much more commonplace isotope carbon It is in the nature of radioactive decay that we can't put on a calendar, "My pet atom Addie is going to decay on June 15th, " and know it to be true; there's a random factor involved.

But, statistically, on large groups of atoms, we know that about half of them will have decayed in a specified interval: We call it the "half-life" because, statistically, you can rely on estimating that half of a given sample will have decayed changed weight in that amount of time. And the undecayed half will have half-decayed in that interval again -- so if you wait twice the half-life, you will only have a quarter the amount remaining that you started with; three-quarters will have decayed.

You don't know WHICH three-quarters down to specific atoms and predictions , but you know how many of them will have. So, where this comes in for rocks is that the carbon in living organisms tends to get replenished with fresh mildly radioactive carbon and oxygen, matching roughly the abundance in the air and water surrounding the organism, until they die.

When they die, the timer starts ticking, and all the radioactive isotopes remaining in the corpse start to decay at their predictable rates.

Relative Dating

So if you take a sample of, say, a carbonate rock like limestone which is made from the deposited shells of myriad tiny dead sea creatures , you can look at the carbon atoms and the oxygen atoms in it, see what proportions of them are still radioactive isotopes, and do some fairly easy math to see how many half-lives of those elements have passed since the critter whose body MADE the carbonate, died. Obviously, things with short half-lives aren't useful for dating things that happened a really long time ago enough half-lives will have passed so that they're all nonradioactive and will stay that way.

Similarly, things that are too RECENT can't be dated, because if one half-life has not passed, the statistics are messy and the result will be imprecise. This is why scientists use a bunch of different elements for radioisotope dating, because each of them is good at measuring a different length of time.

You can also check them against each other and make sure your answer makes sense. Igneous rocks ones that form when magma comes out of the Earth's core and hardens into rock -- like basalt, granite, and pumice also can contain radioactive samples of nonbiological origin, that likewise become a ticking clock once the rock hardens and stops stirring itself into the rest of the Earth's molten core.

Because sometimes you get a lava flow across, say, the floodplain of a river where there are already intricate layer-cakes of rock recording the history of the deaths of the animals who lived along the river , you can date the igneous layer and have a solid date for "Everything below this was already down when the lava came through," as a cross-check to the more biological radio-dating sources.

Some resources for further reading in greater depth by someone who's not skipping over the technical aspects as thoroughly as I have been: Thank you for your feedback! Writing on Quora just got easier for Chrome users with Grammarly. Grammarly's writing app makes sure everything you type is easy to read, effective, and mistake-free. You dismissed this ad. The feedback you provide will help us show you more relevant content in the future.

How is an amber fossil dated? What are the different farming techniques? How does the method of finding how old fossils are by dating fossils work? What are the different costing techniques? As an overview, there are essentially three or perhaps four mechanisms for pointing at the dates or fossils, fossils being a rather different thing from what you might call ancient artefacts. So, Carbon dating won't work for a 'fossil' because we are typically talking fossils rather more than 50, years ago, and so many radioactive Carbon half lives have expired that there are grave accuracy problems.

So you've got measurement of the amounts of radioactive isotopes in the fossil, together with the amounts of the breakdown products from isotopes with appropriately long half lives. You've got stratification where you measure the age of the strata in which the fossil is found.

That can be a really good start. Floods can be nice too, and ground movements can be measured in ways unrelated to your fossil. You've got relative position. If your fossil lies, undisturbed, beneath a T Rex skull you get no points for deducing yours came first. If it lies over a length of barbed wire a couple of days out of the sun could be good Finally, you've got the look of the thing.


If you conclude whereabouts in the evolutionary chain your fossil lies, possible dates present themselves. Quora User , Former biologist and endocrinologist investigating neural response to addiction. How are fossils dated beyond 40, years? Fossils are dated using several methods but I wonder why you specificially ask about 40, years?

Fossils and other artifacts can be dated using radiometric dating.