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Repeated, and tough, regimes of testing have confirmed the broad accuracy of the fossils and their dating, so we can read the history of life from the rocks with confidence. Educators have permission to reprint articles for classroom use; other users, please contact [email protected] reprint permission. Currently, he is studying certain basal dinosaurs from the Late Triassic and the quality of different segments of the fossil record.

He holds the Chair in Vertebrate Paleontology at the University of Bristol, UK, in addition to chairing the Masters program in paleobiology at the university.

Biologists actually have at their disposal several independent ways of looking at the history of life - not only from the order of fossils in the rocks, but also through phylogenetic trees. Relative dating is done by observing fossils, as described above, and recording which fossil is younger, which is older.

The discovery of means for absolute dating in the early 1900s was a huge advance.

Older dates may change by a few million years up and down, but younger dates are stable.

For example, it has been known since the 1960s that the famous Cretaceous-Tertiary boundary, the line marking the end of the dinosaurs, was 65 million years old.

If the fossils, or the dating of the fossils, could be shown to be inaccurate, all such information would have to be rejected as unsafe.

Geologists and paleontologists are highly self-critical, and they have worried for decades about these issues. D., is a vertebrate paleontologist with particular interests in dinosaur origins and fossil history.

A key point is that it is no longer necessary simply to accept one chemical determination of a rock’s age.

Age estimates can be cross-tested by using different isotope pairs.

Current understanding of the history of life is probably close to the truth because it is based on repeated and careful testing and consideration of data.

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