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Relative dating is used to determine a fossils approximate age by comparing it to ...

The majority of the time fossils are dated using relative dating techniques. The atoms in some chemical elements have different forms, called isotopes.

Several dating methods exist, depending on different criteria and techniques, and some very well known examples of disciplines using such techniques are, for example, history, archaeology, geology, paleontology, astronomy and even forensic science, since in the latter it is sometimes necessary to investigate the moment in the past in which the death of a cadaver occurred.

Relative dating methods are unable to determine the absolute age of an object or event, but can determine the impossibility of a particular event happening before or after another event of which the absolute date is well known.

The observation that certain fossils were associated with certain rock strata led early geologists to recognize a geological timescale in the 19th century.

The development of radiometric dating techniques in the early 20th century allowed geologists to determine the numerical or "absolute" age of the various strata and thereby the included fossils.

(note--the time span for human evolution ranges from about 5 million years ago to 20,000 years ago).

__________________________________ reference : Chronological Methods (UCSB Intro to Archaeology Course Site by George Michaels and Brian Fagan). Think about which ones might be more useful in studies of human evolution.

This usually requires what is commonly known as a "dating method".

Historians, for example, know that Shakespeare's play Henry V was not written before 1587 because Shakespeare's primary source for writing his play was the second edition of Raphael Holinshed's Chronicles, not published until 1587.

Thus, 1587 is the post quem dating of Shakespeare's play Henry V.

(You don't need to watch the embedded Quick Time movie clips if they don't run on your computer).

Carbon Dating Laboratory Website of world's largest and most respected radiocarbon lab.

Fossil dating is accurate since the method follows strict scientific guidelines: the age of rocks around a fossil can be considered; mathematical calculations are used ....

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