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Numerical ages estimate the date of a geological event and can sometimes reveal quite precisely when a fossil species existed in time.
Find additional lessons, activities, videos, and articles that focus on relative and absolute dating.
Despite seeming like a relatively stable place, the Earth's surface has changed dramatically over the past 4.6 billion years.
By dating these surrounding layers, they can figure out the youngest and oldest that the fossil might be; this is known as "bracketing" the age of the sedimentary layer in which the fossils occur.
Teach your students about absolute dating: Determining age of rocks and fossils, a classroom activity for grades 9-12.
So in order to date most older fossils, scientists look for layers of igneous rock or volcanic ash above and below the fossil.