Paleontology dating fossils

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Though rare, microstructures resembling cells are sometimes found within stromatolites; but these are also the source of scientific contention.The Gunflint Chert contains abundant microfossils widely accepted as a diverse consortium of 2.0 bya microbes .

There are several common radioactive isotopes that are used for dating rocks, artifacts and fossils. U-235 is found in many igneous rocks, soil and sediment.Finally, past life leaves some markers that cannot be seen but can be detected in the form of biochemical signals; these are known as chemical fossils or biomarkers.Fossil sites with exceptional preservation -- sometimes including preserved soft tissues -- are known as Lagerstätten.A fossil normally preserves only a portion of the deceased organism, usually that portion that was partially mineralized during life, such as the bones and teeth of vertebrates, or the chitinous exoskeletons of invertebrates.Preservation of soft tissues is exquisitely rare in the fossil record.

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