Discuss relative absolute dating
Biologists actually have at their disposal several independent ways of looking at the history of life - not only from the order of fossils in the rocks, but also through phylogenetic trees. Relative dating is done by observing fossils, as described above, and recording which fossil is younger, which is older.The discovery of means for absolute dating in the early 1900s was a huge advance.
Geologists and paleontologists are highly self-critical, and they have worried for decades about these issues. D., is a vertebrate paleontologist with particular interests in dinosaur origins and fossil history.Repeated recalibrations and retests, using ever more sophisticated techniques and equipment, cannot shift that date. With modern, extremely precise, methods, error bars are often only 1% or so.The fossil record is fundamental to an understanding of evolution.Our understanding of the shape and pattern of the history of life depends on the accuracy of fossils and dating methods.Some critics, particularly religious fundamentalists, argue that neither fossils nor dating can be trusted, and that their interpretations are better.Other critics, perhaps more familiar with the data, question certain aspects of the quality of the fossil record and of its dating.
These skeptics do not provide scientific evidence for their views.
Current understanding of the history of life is probably close to the truth because it is based on repeated and careful testing and consideration of data.
The rejection of the validity of fossils and of dating by religious fundamentalists creates a problem for them: Fossil sequences were recognized and established in their broad outlines long before Charles Darwin had even thought of evolution.
Results from different techniques, often measured in rival labs, continually confirm each other.
Every few years, new geologic time scales are published, providing the latest dates for major time lines.
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