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Third, magnetism in rocks can be used to estimate the age of a fossil site.
This method uses the orientation of the Earth's magnetic field, which has changed through time, to determine ages for fossils and rocks.
By comparing fossils of different primate species, scientists can examine how features changed and how primates evolved through time.
Despite seeming like a relatively stable place, the Earth's surface has changed dramatically over the past 4.6 billion years.
Mountains have been built and eroded, continents and oceans have moved great distances, and the Earth has fluctuated from being extremely cold and almost completely covered with ice to being very warm and ice-free.
A fossil can be studied to determine what kind of organism it represents, how the organism lived, and how it was preserved.
However, by itself a fossil has little meaning unless it is placed within some context.