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Relative age dating activity

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Would you like to take a short survey? Extinction of species is common; most of the species that have lived on the earth no longer exist. Return to top The study and comparison of exposed rock layers or strata in various parts of the earth led scientists in the early 19th century to propose that the rock layers could be correlated from place to place.

Both parts of the activity can be completed in one class period. On a larger scale, even between continents, fossil evidence can help in correlating rock layers.


Relative dating tells scientists if a rock layer is "older" or "younger" than another. Comments about Including the Disciplinary Core Idea In this activity, students construct their fossil timeline simply by identifying overlapping fossils in the pieces; it is only after students construct their records that teachers are instructed to provide Figure 2-B which illustrates a hypothetical section of rocks with fossils.

Comments about Including the Science and Engineering Practice In this activity, students are tasked with constructing a timeline using fossils. All of the fossils represented would be relative age dating activity in sedimentary rocks of marine origin.


A Relative Dating Activity is a hands on exercise which introduces students to the concepts of sequencing and using fossils to establish relative dates for rock strata. These major concepts are part of the Denver Earth Science Project's "Paleontology and Dinosaurs" module written for students in grades For example, students should discuss which fossils are making their first appearance in a particular segment and which fossils have disappeared. The Law of Superposition, which states that in an undisturbed horizontal sequence of rocks, the oldest rock layers will be on the bottom, with successively younger rocks on top of these, helps geologists correlate rock layers around the world.

This also means that fossils found in the lowest levels in a sequence of layered rocks represent the oldest record of life there.

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This layer formed on top of earlier rocks after they were tilted and eroded away. This is the thinnest rock layer.

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In order to align this activity more closely to this practice, teachers should require students to explain and justify relative age dating activity step of their timeline. Three-lobed body; burrowing, crawling, and swimming forms; extinct NAME: This resource appears to be designed to build towards this crosscutting concept, though the resource developer has not explicitly stated so.

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. Figure 2-A gives some background information on the individual fossils.

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Remember that younger sedimentary rocks lie on top of older ones and were horizontal when formed. Are you a New Zealand resident? It should be noted that teachers may have to edit the introductory materials provided to students, since the readings may be too difficult for younger middle school students.

In the first part of the activity, students are asked to sequence cards by identifying and ordering overlapping letters found on the cards. Build a timescale https: The major difficulty that students may encounter is the concept that extinction is forever. Shelled, amoeba-like organism NAME: Analyze and interpret data to provide evidence for phenomena. This relative time scale divides the vast amount of earth history into various sections based on geological events sea encroachments, mountain-building, and depositional eventsand notable biological events appearance, relative abundance, or extinction of certain life forms.

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Time factors of millions and billions of years is difficult even for adults to comprehend. Once an organism disappears from the sequence it cannot reappear later.


You need to work out the order in which rocks were formed, from youngest to oldest. Science and Engineering Practices. However, "relative" dating or time can be an easy concept for students to learn.