Chemical techniques relative dating

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Knowing when a dinosaur or other animal lived is important because it helps us place them on the evolutionary family tree.

Accurate dates also allow us to create sequences of evolutionary change and work out when species appeared or became extinct. These are: Where possible, several different methods are used and each method is repeated to confirm the results obtained and improve accuracy.

Developed by Willard Libby in the 1940s – and winning him the Nobel prize in chemistry in 1960 – the basic principle of radiocarbon dating is simple: living things exchange carbon with their environment until they die.

Though originally a field reserved for archaeologists, physical scientists like Walker are showing that they also have crucial contributions to make.

With the help of new physical and chemical dating methods, scientists are finally beginning to discover how and when archaic species became…

‘Dating is absolutely crucial, it underpins everything,’ says Michael Walker.

Based at the University of Wales Trinity St David, he has devoted his career to studying the Quaternary period – the last 2.6 million years and the so-called ‘age of humans’.

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