Relative dating fossils activity

Relative dating of fossils worksheet

  • Sequence the remaining cards by using the same process.
  • Sequencing the rock layers will show students how paleontologists use fossils to give relative dates to rock strata.
  • After you have arranged the cards in order, write your sequence of letters using each letter only once on a separate piece of paper.
Relative dating fossils activity


In addition, students should discuss which, if any, of the fossils in a particular segment could be utilized as an index fossil. Once these answers are shared and evaluated, best sites for international dating students would be prepared for a discussion of the Law of Superposition. Specific rock formations are indicative of a particular type of environment existing when the rock was being formed. Each card represents a particular rock layer with a collection of fossils that are found in that particular rock stratum.

Relative dating fossils activity

Science and Engineering Practices. Which fossil organisms could possibly be used as index fossils? This also means that fossils found in the lowest levels in a sequence of layered rocks represent the oldest record of life there. If certain fossils are typically found only in a particular rock unit and are found in many places worldwide, they may be useful as index or guide fossils in determining the age of undated strata. In the first part of the activity, marriage not dating ep students are asked to sequence cards by identifying and ordering overlapping letters found on the cards.


Scientific measurements such as radiometric dating use the natural radioactivity of certain elements found in rocks to help determine their age. This would also mean that fossils found in the deepest layer of rocks in an area would represent the oldest forms of life in that particular rock formation. The study of fossils and the exploration of what they tell scientists about past climates and environments on Earth can be an interesting study for students of all ages. Name three organisms represented that probably could not be used as index fossils and explain why.

Relative dating Science Learning Hub

Analyze and interpret data to provide evidence for phenomena. For example, most limestones represent marine environments, whereas, sandstones with ripple marks might indicate a shoreline habitat or a riverbed. Again, this exercise is only hypothetical but the experience provided to students can be transferred to actual rock data. Time, space, and energy phenomena can be observed at various scales using models to study systems that are too large or too small. In order to align this activity more closely to this practice, absolute dating compared to teachers should require students to explain and justify each step of their timeline.


By matching partial sequences, the truly oldest layers with fossils can be worked out.

Relative dating fossils activity

Teaching about Earth's history is a challenge for all teachers. State the Law of Superposition and explain how this activity illustrates this law. Using the results of these activities, teachers can then lead students in a discussion of the Law of Superposition and the identification and value of index fossils.

Use this information to sequence the cards in a vertical stack of fossils in rock strata. In what kinds of rocks might you find the fossils from this activity? Find a rock layer that has at least one of the fossils you found in the oldest rock layer. Time factors of millions and billions of years is difficult even for adults to comprehend.

All of the fossils represented would be found in sedimentary rocks of marine origin. Carefully examine the second set of cards which have sketches of fossils on them. Keep in mind that extinction is forever. Analyses of rock strata and the fossil record provide only relative dates, not an absolute scale.

By correlating fossils from various parts of the world, scientists are able to give relative ages to particular strata. This is called relative dating. Scientists also use direct evidence from observations of the rock layers themselves to help determine the relative age of rock layers. In the second part of the activity, students progress to dating rock layers by sequencing fossils found in the different strata.

Only one sequence is correct for each activity, but the answer is easily achievable if students can recognize the relationships detailed in the cards. Both parts of the activity can be completed in one class period. In this activity, online students begin a sequencing activity with familiar items - letters written on cards. The major difficulty that students may encounter is the concept that extinction is forever.

This will enable your teacher to quickly check whether you have the correct sequence. Locally, physical characteristics of rocks can be compared and correlated. Graphs, charts, and images can be used to identify patterns in data. For example, students should discuss which fossils are making their first appearance in a particular segment and which fossils have disappeared.

Relative dating fossils activity


  1. By using this information from rock formations in various parts of the world and correlating the studies, scientists have been able to establish the geologic time scale.
  2. On a larger scale, even between continents, fossil evidence can help in correlating rock layers.
  3. The activity helps students to understand that long spans of geologic time can be broken down into more manageable segments by using relative ages.
  4. Spread the cards with the nonsense syllables on the table and determine the correct sequence of the eight cards by comparing letters that are common to individual cards and, therefore, overlap.

Fossils and relative dating

Relative dating fossils activity
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