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Your goal is to study the smooth, parallel layers of rock to learn how the land built up over geologic time.Now imagine that you come upon a formation like this: What do you think of it? How can you make any conclusions about rock layers that make such a crazy arrangement? Students not only want to know how old a fossil is, but they want to know how that age was determined.Some very straightforward principles are used to determine the age of fossils.Free 5-day trial Discover how geologists study the layers in sedimentary rock to establish relative age.Learn how inclusions and unconformities can tell us stories about the geologic past.

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As these changes have occurred, organisms have evolved, and remnants of some have been preserved as fossils.

For example, based on the primate fossil record, scientists know that living primates evolved from fossil primates and that this evolutionary history took tens of millions of years.

By comparing fossils of different primate species, scientists can examine how features changed and how primates evolved through time.

The age of the fossil must be determined so it can be compared to other fossil species from the same time period.

Understanding the ages of related fossil species helps scientists piece together the evolutionary history of a group of organisms.