Fossils and relative dating worksheet answers

Relative dating worksheet answers

  1. Relative age dating worksheet
  2. WHO'S ON FIRST? RELATIVE DATING (Student Activity)
  3. Relative dating worksheet

We want fossils of plants and animals that lived for a relatively short amount of time, like a few hundred thousand years or so. I know that doesn't seem like a very short time span, but it is when we're talking about geologic time. An index fossil is a fossil representing a plant or animal that existed for a relatively short duration of time. These are the fossils that we want to use for relative dating. Index fossils help us to distinguish between rock strata from different time periods, so it's important that they don't cover too much historical ground.

We wouldn't want to use a horseshoe crab fossil, because horseshoe crabs have existed for over million years and are still alive today! We'd want to use a more short-lived fossil, like the dodo bird. We also want our index fossils to be common, widely-distributed species that are easy for scientists to identify. Some of the scientists' favorite index fossils are trilobites, ammonites and scallop shells. So, how exactly is an index fossil used for relative dating of rocks?

Relative age dating worksheet

Well, let's go back to our surveyor, William Smith. He was often presented with the problem of finding two different rock outcrops from two different periods. Let's say in the first outcrop, he found an upper rock layer containing ammonite fossils and a lower layer containing scallops. In the second outcrop, miles and miles away, he also found two layers; but these layers were different. The upper layer had scallop fossils, and the lower layer had trilobites. Smith would have brought these two arrangements together, overlapping the common scallop layer, to produce a larger succession of three rock strata!

Now we have a more complete piece of geologic history: Index fossils can be used to correlate the relative ages of rocks that are separated by vast distances. The cool thing is that we can even correlate rocks from different continents! For example, scientists found Barosaurus fossils inside a layer of Tendaguru rocks in East Africa. They also found Hypsilophodon fossils inside a layer of Wealden rocks in Europe. Scientists didn't know how old either of the rocks were, or even which dinosaur was older than the other.

But in North America, they found a big chunk of rock which contained both fossils. Therefore, the Hypsilophodon had to be older than the Barosaurus. And, even though the rock types were different, scientists could assign relative ages to the other rocks based on their fossils. They could safely assume that the Tendaguru rocks in East Africa were older than the Wealden rocks in Europe. When rocks are made up of distinct strata, we use stratigraphic succession to determine the relative ages of each of the layers in the rock.

However, another form of relative dating is the use of fossil succession: In order to use fossils for relative dating, scientists focus their efforts on index fossils. These fossils represent plants and animals that lived for a relatively short period of time. We use index fossils to identify periods of geologic history and to match up pieces of rock strata that have been separated by large distances. When one outcrop contains two index fossils from two different time periods, it acts as a 'missing link' between other outcrops that have only one of the two fossils.

Relative Geologic Dating

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Relative age dating worksheet answer key

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Relative Dating with Fossils: Index Fossils as Indicators of Time You may already know how to date a fossil with a rock. But did you know that we can also date a rock with a fossil? Watch this video to find out how we use index fossils to establish the relative ages of rocks. Try it risk-free for 30 days. An error occurred trying to load this video.


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Relative dating worksheet

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