But really, how do scientists figure out how old their dinosaur bones are?And, what about other findings like fossil fish, plants and insects?Free 5-day trial Learn how scientists determine the ages of rocks and fossils.
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!The first method that scientists use to determine the age of rocks is relative dating.In this method, scientists compare different layers of rock to determine an ordered sequence of events in geologic history.Scientists are always spouting information about the ages of rocks and fossils. Well, they figure it out using two different methods: relative dating and numerical dating.Let's find out more about these geological dating methods in order to understand how Paul the Paleontologist can be so sure about the age of his dinosaur fossils.If I told you that I was 30 years old, that number would be my numerical age.If I told you I was 32 years younger than my mother, that number would be my relative age.One of the biggest jobs of a geologist is establishing the absolute age, in years, of a rock or fossil.Unlike relative dating, which only tells us the age of rock A compared to rock B, numerical dating tells us the age of rock A in x number of years.Let's say that Paul the Paleontologist found an iguanodon fossil in the light green layer shown above.And, he also found a coelophysis fossil in the yellow layer. Of course, the coelophysis, which means that coelophysis came before iguanodon.