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Sometimes only one method is possible, reducing the confidence researchers have in the results. “They’re based on ‘it’s that old because I say so,’ a popular approach by some of my older colleagues,” says Shea, laughing, “though I find I like it myself as I get more gray hair.” Kidding aside, dating a find is crucial for understanding its significance and relation to other fossils or artifacts.Methods fall into one of two categories: relative or absolute.Putting together the pieces of the puzzle of human biological history is the task of paleontologists, geologists and anthropologists.In this room we explore how these scientists can reconstruct the past from their studies of the geological contexts in which fossils are found, the dating of the specimens, their comparative anatomy with extinct and living species of our taxonomic order, the Primates, and the lifeways and behavior patterns of the first members of the human family within the Primates.By looking at reproductions and pictures of this fossil record, including representations of pre-human Primate species, we learn about our prehistoric beginnings among those populations of first two million years of our evolution, as identified as Ardipithecus, Australopithecus and the earliest members assigned to our own genus- Homo habilis and Homo rudolfensis.This video is part 4 of 13 in the Human Paleontology series.Some fossils, called index fossils, are particularly useful in correlating rocks.

This matching process is called correlation, which has been an important process in constructing geological timescales.Students begin by observing a photograph and a diagram of rock layers near Whanganui, watch an animation about how the layers were formed, then use an interactive labelling diagram to work out the order in which the rocks were created.The activity offers literacy opportunities as well as practice using the science capability 'Interpret representations'.Paleomagnetism is often used as a rough check of results from another dating method.Tephrochronology: Within hours or days of a volcanic eruption, tephra — fragments of rock and other material hurled into the atmosphere by the event — is deposited in a single layer with a unique geochemical fingerprint.Relative dating does not provide actual numerical dates for the rocks.

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