Two ways of dating fossils

19-Jun-2018 04:06 by 4 Comments

Two ways of dating fossils - No sign up granny chat rooms

Estimating the dates of these remains is essential but difficult: sometimes adjacent rock layers allow radiometric dating, which provides absolute dates that are accurate to within 0.5%, but more often paleontologists have to rely on relative dating by solving the "jigsaw puzzles" of biostratigraphy.Classifying ancient organisms is also difficult, as many do not fit well into the Linnaean taxonomy that is commonly used for classifying living organisms, and paleontologists more often use cladistics to draw up evolutionary "family trees".

– which have sometimes included evolutionary developments, for example the rapid expansion of land plants in the Devonian period removed more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, reducing the greenhouse effect and thus helping to cause an ice age in the Carboniferous period.

Sometimes the smoking gun is discovered by a fortunate accident during other research.

For example, the discovery by Luis Alvarez and Walter Alvarez of an iridium-rich layer at the Cretaceous–Tertiary boundary made asteroid impact and volcanism the most favored explanations for the Cretaceous–Paleogene extinction event.

For historical reasons paleontology is part of the geology departments of many universities, because in the 19th century and early 20th century geology departments found paleontological evidence important for estimating the ages of rocks while biology departments showed little interest.

Paleontology also has some overlap with archaeology, which primarily works with objects made by humans and with human remains, while paleontologists are interested in the characteristics and evolution of humans as organisms.

Palynology, the study of pollen and spores produced by land plants and protists, straddles the border between paleontology and botany, as it deals with both living and fossil organisms.

Micropaleontology deals with all microscopic fossil organisms, regardless of the group to which they belong.

When dealing with evidence about humans, archaeologists and paleontologists may work together – for example paleontologists might identify animal or plant fossils around an archaeological site, to discover what the people who lived there ate; or they might analyze the climate at the time when the site was inhabited by humans.

A relatively recent discipline, molecular phylogenetics, often helps by using comparisons of different modern organisms' DNA and RNA to re-construct evolutionary "family trees"; it has also been used to estimate the dates of important evolutionary developments, although this approach is controversial because of doubts about the reliability of the "molecular clock".

The other main type of science is experimental science, which is often said to work by conducting experiments to disprove hypotheses about the workings and causes of natural phenomena – note that this approach cannot confirm a hypothesis is correct, since some later experiment may disprove it.

However, when confronted with totally unexpected phenomena, such as the first evidence for invisible radiation, experimental scientists often use the same approach as historical scientists: construct a set of hypotheses about the causes and then look for a "smoking gun".

Fossilisation is a rare event, and most fossils are destroyed by erosion or metamorphism before they can be observed.