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Fossils are important for working out the relative ages of sedimentary rocks.

Throughout the history of life, different organisms have appeared, flourished and become extinct.

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Of all the isotopic dating methods in use today, the uranium-lead method is the oldest and, when done carefully, the most reliable.Fossils are generally found in sedimentary rock — not igneous rock.Sedimentary rocks can be dated using radioactive carbon, but because carbon decays relatively quickly, this only works for rocks younger than about 50 thousand years.This matching process is called correlation, which has been an important process in constructing geological timescales.

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Some fossils, called index fossils, are particularly useful in correlating rocks.

Both are unstable and radioactive, shedding nuclear particles in a cascade that doesn't stop until they become lead (Pb).