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Paleontologists still commonly use biostratigraphy to date fossils, often in combination with paleomagnetism and tephrochronology.A submethod within biostratigraphy is faunal association: Sometimes researchers can determine a rough age for a fossil based on established ages of other fauna from the same layer — especially microfauna, which evolve faster, creating shorter spans in the fossil record for each species.Before more precise absolute dating tools were possible, researchers used a variety of comparative approaches called relative dating.

Uranium series dating: U-series dating includes a number of methods, each based on different uranium isotopes’ decay rates.

Unlike observation-based relative dating, most absolute methods require some of the find to be destroyed by heat or other means.

This family of dating methods, some more than a century old, takes advantage of the environment’s natural radioactivity.

Both plants and animals exchange carbon with their environment until they die.

Afterward, the amount of the radioactive isotope carbon-14 in their remains decreases.

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