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Early geologists, in the 1700s and 1800s, noticed how fossils seemed to occur in sequences: certain assemblages of fossils were always found below other assemblages. Since 1859, paleontologists, or fossil experts, have searched the world for fossils.
In the past 150 years they have not found any fossils that Darwin would not have expected.
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.
For each dating or chronological method there is a link in the box at right to take you to that section of this page.
There, you will find a brief description of the method, plus links to take you to other webpages with more extensive information.
In alpha decay, the nucleus ejects a helium nucleus (alpha particle) composed of two neutrons and two protons, dropping the mass of the original nucleus by four mass units.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.The rejection of the validity of fossils and of dating by religious fundamentalists creates a problem for them: Fossil sequences were recognized and established in their broad outlines long before Charles Darwin had even thought of evolution. The purpose of this chapter is to explain the process of radioactive decay and its relationship to the concept of half-life.The primary intent is to demonstrate how the half-life of a radionuclide can be used in practical ways to “fingerprint” radioactive materials, to “date” organic materials, to estimate the age of the earth, and to optimize the medical benefits of radionuclide usage. Remember that a radionuclide represents an element with a particular combination of protons and neutrons (nucleons) in the nucleus of the atom.
A radionuclide has an unstable combination of nucleons and emits radiation in the process of regaining stability.