Dating techniques for fossils
Absolute dating is used to determine a precise age of a fossil by using radiometric dating to measure the decay of isotopes, either within the fossil or more often the rocks associated with it. Using relative dating the fossil is compared to something for which an age is already known.
Authigenic Mineralisation - A very special form of cast and mold formation where a nodule is formed around the fossil by minerals such as siderite. Lack of oxygen that limits decay and scavenging.
Subtle differences in the relative proportions of the two isotopes can give good dates for rocks of any age. January Fossils provide a record of the history of life.
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. In the past years they have not found any fossils that Darwin would not have expected. So, often layers of volcanic rocks above and below the layers containing fossils can be dated to provide a date range for the fossil containing rocks. Certain naturally occurring elements are radioactive, and they decay, or break down, at predictable rates. If the fossil you are trying to date occurs alongside one of these index fossils, then the fossil you are dating must fall into the age range of the index fossil.
Potassium on the other hand breaks down much slower and is common in rocks and minerals. Age estimates can be cross-tested by using different isotope pairs. Very rare, and typically found in very recent fossils. In a hypothetical example, a rock formation contains fossils of a type of brachiopod known to occur between and million years.
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