Anonymous asked in Social ScienceAnthropology · 9 months ago

Anthropology 101 ー Human Biological Evolution?

How do relative dating methods work? How do absolute dating methods work?

Hey, can someone explain this to me? Maybe I'm dumb for having a hard time trying to understand what this is? I have a discussion and I don't want to copy-paste someone else's words but I can't writr my own because I really don't get it. Any help would be appreciated.

1 Answer

  • 9 months ago
    Favourite answer

    This may help more than any explanation you'll get here:


    Well, try something like this, then.

    Relative dating is identifying one thing as older than another, without necessarily knowing their exact ages. An analogy would be knowing that one person is another one's mother. You don't have to know either of their exact ages to know that the mother is older. Because of how the process works, you know she HAS to be.

    In Paleontology, that would be the equivalent of finding two fossils in adjacent strata. Because you know how the process of forming layers works, you know the one in the lower stratum is older than the one in the higher one. Even if you don't know precisely how much older.

    Absolute dating is finding some way to tell the ages directly, without relying on their relationship to each other to tell you. The analogy would be knowing that one cousin is older than the other, not because anything inherent to the process of being cousins tells you, but because you know the actual dates they were born.

    In Paleontology, that would be the equivalent of knowing the radiometric ages of two fossils, which tells you precisely how old they are even if you don't know what strata they came from.

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