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Along the way, we'll learn how stratigraphic succession and radioactive decay contribute to the work of paleontologists.Consider the following scenario: Paul the Paleontologist is a very famous scientist who has studied dinosaur bones all over the world.
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Absolute dating techniques were not available to him (radiocarbon dating wasn't invented until the 1940s); and since they were separately excavated graves, stratigraphy was no use either.
Petrie knew that styles of pottery seemed to come and go over time--in his case, he noted that some ceramic urns from the graves had handles and others had just stylized ridges in the same location on similarly shaped urns.
The Wheeler Formation has been previously dated to approximately 507 million year old, so we know the trilobite is also about 507 million years old.