Radiometric dating debate

New discoveries have filled in the gaps, and shown us in unimaginable detail the shape of the great ‘tree of life’.

Darwin and his contemporaries could never have imagined the improvements in resolution of stratigraphy that have come since 1859, nor guessed what fossils were to be found in the southern continents, nor predicted the huge increase in the number of amateur and professional paleontologists worldwide.

Fossils document the order of appearance of groups and they tell us about some of the amazing plants and animals that died out long ago.

Fossils can also show us how major crises, such as mass extinctions, happened, and how life recovered after them.

Other critics, perhaps more familiar with the data, question certain aspects of the quality of the fossil record and of its dating.

These skeptics do not provide scientific evidence for their views.

The methods are all based on radioactive decay: The first radiometric dates, generated about 1920, showed that the Earth was hundreds of millions, or billions, of years old.

The fossil record is fundamental to an understanding of evolution.Results from different techniques, often measured in rival labs, continually confirm each other.Every few years, new geologic time scales are published, providing the latest dates for major time lines.If the fossils, or the dating of the fossils, could be shown to be inaccurate, all such information would have to be rejected as unsafe.Geologists and paleontologists are highly self-critical, and they have worried for decades about these issues. D., is a vertebrate paleontologist with particular interests in dinosaur origins and fossil history.

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