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Professional radiocarbon dating

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Finally, paleontology is an increasingly important component of historical biology.

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If we understand the effects of climate change, for instance, on our world in the past, we can understand its probable effects in the future.Paleontologists deal with two types of dating, absolute and relative.Absolute dating, which estimates the age of a rock or fossil in years, is most usually done by measuring the amounts of a radioactive isotope and its decay product; since isotope decay rates are known to be constant, the age can be calculated from the relative amounts of parent isotope to daughter product.There are a number of techniques and fields that deal with reconstructing the past, but paleontology provides hard data on past events.Paleontology can potentially provide much data on the evolutionary relationships of organisms, which in turn gives a deeper understanding of biodiversity.Some paleontologists study the ecology of the past; others work on the evolution of fossil taxa.

For additional information on the subdisciplines of paleontology, read our "What is paleontology? Archaeologists primarily work with human artifacts — objects that have been made by humans — and with human remains.

Paleontologists who work on relatively recent fossils have developed approaches to reconstructing past climates and environments.

Today, environmental change, global warming, and so on are household words.

Although most of the fossils that paleontologists study are several thousands to several billions of years old, there is no absolute minimum age for a biological structure to be a fossil.

Paleontologists study fossils and attempt to use them to reconstruct the history of the Earth and the life on it.

However, archaeologists and paleontologists might work together.