Method of radioactive dating

Second, it is possible to determine the numerical age for fossils or earth materials.

Numerical ages estimate the date of a geological event and can sometimes reveal quite precisely when a fossil species existed in time.

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.

" First, the relative age of a fossil can be determined.

Relative dating puts geologic events in chronological order without requiring that a specific numerical age be assigned to each event.

This is the principle of original horizontality: layers of strata are deposited horizontally or nearly horizontally (Figure 2).

Thus, any deformations of strata (Figures 2 and 3) must have occurred after the rock was deposited.

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Accordingly, the oldest rocks in a sequence are at the bottom and the youngest rocks are at the top.

The layers of rock at the base of the canyon were deposited first, and are thus older than the layers of rock exposed at the top (principle of superposition).

In the Grand Canyon, the layers of strata are nearly horizontal.

Layers that cut across other layers are younger than the layers they cut through (principle of cross-cutting relationships).

The principle of superposition builds on the principle of original horizontality.

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