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Second, it is possible to determine the numerical age for fossils or earth materials.

Despite seeming like a relatively stable place, the Earth's surface has changed dramatically over the past 4.6 billion years.

Mountains have been built and eroded, continents and oceans have moved great distances, and the Earth has fluctuated from being extremely cold and almost completely covered with ice to being very warm and ice-free.

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By comparing fossils of different primate species, scientists can examine how features changed and how primates evolved through time.

The age of the fossil must be determined so it can be compared to other fossil species from the same time period.

Understanding the ages of related fossil species helps scientists piece together the evolutionary history of a group of organisms.

A fossil can be studied to determine what kind of organism it represents, how the organism lived, and how it was preserved.

However, by itself a fossil has little meaning unless it is placed within some context.

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