Absolute vs relative dating fossils
You should already understand that the lower rock strata are generally older than the strata found higher up in the rock.When a scientist finds a section of rock that has lots of different strata, he assumes that the bottom-most layer is the oldest, and the top-most layer is the youngest.
Therefore, we can use the succession of fossil assemblages to establish the relative ages of rocks.
Now, when we use fossils to date rocks, we have to be careful. Remember that some species of animals and plants lived for a very long time, while others existed only for a short period of time.
The other articles provide examples of arguments that we think should no longer be used; some arguments are definitely fallacious, while others are merely doubtful or unsubstantiated.
We provide brief explanations why, and/or hyperlinks to other articles on this Web site with more detailed explanations.
(See also a refutation of the argument Newton was a creationist only because there was no alternative?
) However, after the rise of old-age beliefs thanks to James Hutton and Charles Lyell, some scientists caved in and ‘re-interpreted’ the Bible to fit them.But sometimes, a scientist finds a couple of rock outcrops that are separated by a wide distance.One outcrop shows layers from one geologic time period, while the other outcrop represents a different time. Can he put the pieces together to make the story more complete? Let's find out how scientists deal with this common problem by using the fossils inside the rocks.They may have meant well, but their faulty model was an easy target for Darwin.For example, Darwin pointed out that the fashionable theory taught by Lyell, of fixity of species—that each species had been independently created in their current location—made little sense of his observations that island species were often similar to those of the nearest continent.Plus, get practice tests, quizzes, and personalized coaching to help you succeed.