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Steno made careful geologic observations and illustrations.He published the results of his work and established a basic set of principles for interpreting sedimentary strata.All ordinary matter is made up of combinations of chemical elements, each with its own atomic number, indicating the number of protons in the atomic nucleus.Additionally, elements may exist in different isotopes, with each isotope of an element differing in the number of neutrons in the nucleus.These changes typically occur so slowly that they are barely detectable over the span of a human life, yet even at this instant, the Earth's surface is moving and changing.As these changes have occurred, organisms have evolved, and remnants of some have been preserved as fossils.

With a rock record that spans more than 1500 m.y., Grand Canyon is truly a panoramic view into the geologic past.Ask yourself how the things that are happening in the world today might end up being recorded in the sediments that are now or soon will be deposited.How would today's sediments appear to a geologist millions of years in the future examining outcrops of sedimentary rock that originated in our 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.

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