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In addition to being tilted horizontally, the layers have been faulted (dashed lines on figure).

Applying the principle of cross-cutting relationships, this fault that offsets the layers of rock must have occurred after the strata were deposited.

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.

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.

The layers of rock at the base of the canyon were deposited first, and are thus older than the layers of rock exposed at the top (principle of superposition).

Numerical ages estimate the date of a geological event and can sometimes reveal quite precisely when a fossil species existed in time.This is the principle of original horizontality: layers of strata are deposited horizontally or nearly horizontally (Figure 2).Thus, any deformations of strata (Figures 2 and 3) must have occurred after the rock was deposited.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.

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