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Dating Methods Essay

1382 words - 6 pages

General Differances Between Relative and Absolute Dating Methods

Getting dates for fossils that are found in sites being
excavated by anthropologist is very important. Dates show the
evolution from early hominid specimens to our own species, Homo
homo sapiens. There are many methods that can be used to acquire
these dates, but all of these methods fall into one of two
catorgories. They can either give a absolute date or a relative
date. An absolute date is one in which you get an actual date in
years. Also known as chronometric methods. Relative dates do
not give an actual date in terms of years, but they tell you if
one fossil is older or younger than another fossil.

Ushally relative dates are given in terms of the column of
earth they are found in. This is called striatigraphy. In
sites like Olduvai gorge their are geological layers of vocanic
ash and sediment. When a anthropologist finds a fossil in a
undistirbed layer of gray ash, you know that it is younger than
the fossil in the layer of red ash below, and that fossil is
younger than the fossil in the layer of brown ash below
it.(Johanson 65) The basic theory here is that a certian site
cantians a geolgical column key that is made up of differant
strata layers, the fossils get older as they move down the key,
and are found in differant layers of strata..(Scully 2)
Relative dates have a couple of major problems. One is that the
earth moves in many ways and this can distrube the layers of
sediment putting younger fossils below older ones. Another is
that you can not tell exactly how much younger or older something
is from somethinng else and you can not date differant fossils
from differant sites with thes relative dating methods.

Absolute dating, unlike realative dating, gives the
anthropologist an exact date in terms of calander years. These
dating methods are much more reliable and can be used in many
differant sites with many differant fossils. Absolute dating
bases it’s dates on the natural radioactivity of differant
elements found in the world.(Johnston 216) There are certian
elements that occur in differant forms, these elements are called
isotopes. Each one of these isotopes has a differant atomic mass
than others. Some of thes isotopes are radioactive, meaning that
they give of radiation in either alpha or beta form, as they
decay. As these isotopes decay the rate at which they decay is
costant. This means that if an anthropologist knows how much of
an isotope is left in a fossil, how much there was at death and
the rate at which it decays then that scientist can get an exact
date for that fossil.(Johnston 216)

The mian diffecance in these two types of dating methods is
what kind of date they give. Absolute dates are given in the
form of years, while a relative date can only tell you how much
older or younger something is from something else, but not by how
much in terms of years. Absolute dates are...

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