It may seem odd that the two procedures are kept distinct—if scientists can determine the numerical ages of rocks and fossils they should be able to put the evidence of ancient life in the correct historical order.
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For each dating or chronological method there is a link in the box at right to take you to that section of this page.
There, you will find a brief description of the method, plus links to take you to other webpages with more extensive information.
Dating is not necessary to demonstrate that evolution is a fact.
Geologists rely on two basic types of dating: absolute dating and relative dating.
Absolute dating establishes how many years ago a given event took place.
The most important methods of absolute dating are based on the decay of naturally occurring radioactive elements.
Relative dating places historical events in their correct order but does not yield numerical estimates of how many years ago the events happened.
There are two main methods of dating or aging fossils used by paleontologists.
These include comparative or relative dating, and absolute or chronometric dating.
The position of the specimen in sedimentary rock determines the age of a fossil; for example, in undisturbed sedimentary rocks, bottom layers often contain the oldest fossils.
Dating the age of rocks is critical to reconstructing Earth's history.