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Here's the next step in that journey: the Geologic Time Scales of Earth and the Moon.In the science of geology, there are two main ways we use to describe how old a thing is or how long ago an event took place. When you say that I am 38 years old or that the dinosaurs died out 65 million years ago, or that the solar system formed 4.6 billion years ago, those are absolute ages.relative age (¡ärel¡¤əd¡¤iv ¡ä¨¡j) (geology) The geologic age of a fossil organism, rock, or geologic feature or event defined relative to other organisms, rocks, or features or events rather than in terms of years. age"Relative age is the age of a rock layer (or the fossils it contains) compared to other layers." --VERSUS-- "Absolute age is the numeric age of a layer of rocks or fossils." other words - if they say absolute age, they KNOW what it is to a million years or so.When you find the same fossils in rocks far away, you know that the sediments those rocks must have been laid down at the same time.
We ask our submitters to thoroughly research questions and provide sources where possible. Look closely at the Geologic Time Scale chart, and you might notice that the first three columns don't even go back 600 million years.That last, pink Precambrian column, with its sparse list of epochal names, covers the first four billion years of Earth's history, more than three quarters of Earth's existence. Paleontologists have used major appearances and disappearances of different kinds of fossils on Earth to divide Earth's history -- at least the part of it for which there are lots of fossils -- into lots of eras and periods and epochs.Long before I understood what any of it meant, I'd daydream in science class, staring at this chart, sounding out the names, wondering what those black-and-white bars meant, wondering what the colors meant, wondering why the divisions were so uneven, knowing it represented some kind of deep, meaningful, systematic organization of scientific knowledge, and hoping I'd have it all figured out one day.This all has to do with describing how long ago something happened. There are several ways we figure out relative ages.
When you talk about something happening in the Precambrian or the Cenozoic or the Silurian or Eocene, you are talking about something that happened when a certain kind of fossil life was present.