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03-Jul-2017 08:38

In 1905, Ernest Rutherford figured out that we could use radiation to establish the ages of rocks.

By studying how the mass of uranium changed with radioactive decay, Rutherford was able to determine the age of a rock containing a uranium mineral. It meant that scientists could suddenly establish the actual ages of all their rocks and fossils!

Again, this doesn't tell them exactly how old the layers are, but it does give them an idea of the ordered sequence of events that occurred over the history of that geologic formation.

Sort of an offshoot of stratigraphic succession is fossil succession, or a method in which scientists compare fossils in different rock strata to determine the relative ages of each.

In 1896, a French physicist named Henri Becquerel discovered radioactivity in an element called uranium.

He saw that it underwent radioactive decay, or emission of energetic particles to produce new elements.

That means they don't really know how old their rocks actually are.

The key in relative dating is to find an ordered sequence.

And, what about other findings like fossil fish, plants and insects?Along the way, we'll learn how stratigraphic succession and radioactive decay contribute to the work of paleontologists.Consider the following scenario: Paul the Paleontologist is a very famous scientist who has studied dinosaur bones all over the world.Scientists piece together a story of how one event came before or after another.