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Our understanding of the shape and pattern of the history of life depends on the accuracy of fossils and dating methods.Some critics, particularly religious fundamentalists, argue that neither fossils nor dating can be trusted, and that their interpretations are better.Also includes info on how fossils are formed, the “cleaning, preparing, & repairing” of fossils, and other useful resources.Radiometric dating measures the decay of radioactive atoms to determine the age of a rock sample.New discoveries have filled in the gaps, and shown us in unimaginable detail the shape of the great ‘tree of life’.
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.
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.
These demonstrate that, of course, we do not know everything (and clearly never will), but we know enough.
Today, innovative techniques provide further confirmation and understanding of the history of life.