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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.
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.
The rejection of the validity of fossils and of dating by religious fundamentalists creates a problem for them: Fossil sequences were recognized and established in their broad outlines long before Charles Darwin had even thought of evolution.
Recently, he appeared on the evening news to talk about a new dinosaur he just discovered. Paul says he can tell from the fossils that superus awesomus lived on Earth about 175 million years ago.
Paul is super awesome, so I'm going to take him at his word.
Our understanding of the shape and pattern of the history of life depends on the accuracy of fossils and dating methods.
Some critics, particularly religious fundamentalists, argue that neither fossils nor dating can be trusted, and that their interpretations are better.