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Replacement and Recrystallization - Replacement occurs when the shell, bone or other tissue is replaced with another mineral.
A shell is said to be recrystallized when the original skeletal compounds are still present but in a different crystal form, as from aragonite to calcite.
If a layer of rock containing the fossil is higher up in the sequence that another layer, you know that layer much be younger in age.
By combining these principals, relative dating techniques can usually be used to determine the approximate age of a fossil.
By measuring the ratio of the amount of the original isotope to the amount of the isotopes that it breaks down into an age can be determined.
While people are most familiar with carbon dating, carbon dating is rarely applicable to fossils.
fossil (latin for "obtained by digging") is the preserved remains or traces of organisms (plants, animals, etc) that lived in the distant past.
Another principal used in relative dating that rock layers are deposited sequentially.
Authigenic Mineralisation - A very special form of cast and mold formation where a nodule is formed around the fossil by minerals such as siderite.
In cases of rapid fosssilization, very fine details can be preserved.
One example of this is ironstone nodules in the Mazon Creek fossil beds that contain amazingly details fossil plants and insects.
One common question that comes up is how is the age of a fossil determined?