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This problem is now reduced by the careful collection of samples, rigorous crosschecking and the use of newer techniques that can date minute samples.

Volcanic rocks – such as tuff and basalt – can be used in dating because they are formed at a particular moment in time, during an eruption.

The study of fossils and the exploration of what they tell scientists about past climates and environments on Earth can be an interesting study for students of all ages.

Teaching about Earth's history is a challenge for all teachers.

Current understanding of the history of life is probably close to the truth because it is based on repeated and careful testing and consideration of data.

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.

Metamorphic rock is formed by great pressure far below the Earth's surface.Other critics, perhaps more familiar with the data, question certain aspects of the quality of the fossil record and of its dating.These skeptics do not provide scientific evidence for their views.Different methods have their own limitations, especially with regard to the age range they can measure and the substances they can date.A common problem with any dating method is that a sample may be contaminated with older or younger material and give a false age.New discoveries have filled in the gaps, and shown us in unimaginable detail the shape of the great ‘tree of life’.

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