James Hutton and William Smith advanced the concept of geologic time and strengthened the belief in an ancient world.
Hutton, a Scottish geologist, first proposed formally the fundamental principle used to classify rocks according to their relative ages.
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Because fossils actually record the slow but progressive development of life, scientists use them to identify rocks of the same age throughout the world.
Dating is not necessary to demonstrate that evolution is a fact.
A specialized form of cross-dating, using animal and plant fossils, is known as biostratigraphy.
Keyed to the relative time scale are examples of index fossils, the forms of life which existed during limited periods of geologic time and thus are used as guides to the age of the rocks in which they are preserved.