Relative and numerical dating techniques
A fossil can be studied to determine what kind of organism it represents, how the organism lived, and how it was preserved.However, by itself a fossil has little meaning unless it is placed within some context.These changes typically occur so slowly that they are barely detectable over the span of a human life, yet even at this instant, the Earth's surface is moving and changing.
Index fossils are fossils that are known to only occur within a very specific age range.
Tradition paleontological and biostratigraphic correlation methods are still perhaps the most common relative dating methods used by geologists.
More modern correlation technologies include use of marine stable isotope records, paleomagnetic dating, tephrachronology, geomorphological methods, sedimentation characteristics, and other geochemical and radiometric methods.
The age of the fossil must be determined so it can be compared to other fossil species from the same time period.
Understanding the ages of related fossil species helps scientists piece together the evolutionary history of a group of organisms.