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Scientists can use certain types of fossils referred to as index fossils to assist in relative dating via correlation.
Index fossils are fossils that are known to only occur within a very specific age range.
Nevertheless, there is substantial evidence that the Earth and the other bodies of the Solar System are 4.5-4.6 billion years old, and that the Milky Way Galaxy and the Universe are older still.
The principal evidence for the antiquity of Earth and its cosmic surroundings is: Spontaneous breakdown or decay of atomic nuclei, termed radioactive decay, is the basis for all radiometric dating methods.
This uses radioactive minerals that occur in rocks and fossils almost like a geological clock.
It’s often much easier to date volcanic rocks than the fossils themselves or the sedimentary rocks they are found in.
Potassium-40 on the other hand has a half like of 1.25 billion years and is common in rocks and minerals.
By measuring the ratio of the amount of the original (parent) isotope to the amount of the (daughter) isotopes that it breaks down into an age can be determined.
There are two main methods determining a fossils age, relative dating and absolute dating.
Relative dating is used to determine a fossils approximate age by comparing it to similar rocks and fossils of known ages.
Then after another 5,000 years half of the remaining parent isotope will have decayed.
While people are most familiar with carbon dating, carbon dating is rarely applicable to fossils.