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Harnessing its energy holds great promise for the world’s energy needs, and it will be heavily called upon as fossil fuels are depleted.
Though still heavily used, relative dating is now augmented by several modern dating techniques.
Radiocarbon dating involves determining the age of an ancient fossil or specimen by measuring its carbon-14 content.
Until this century, relative dating was the only technique for identifying the age of a truly ancient object.
By examining the object's relation to layers of deposits in the area, and by comparing the object to others found at the site, archaeologists can estimate when the object arrived at the site.
This means that fossil fuels, along with nuclear energy — a controversial, non-renewable energy source — are supplying 93 percent of the world’s energy resources.
Dams are a major source of hydroelectric energy, such as the Hoover Dam on the Colorado River (pictured).
The total world energy demand is for about 400 quadrillion British Thermal Units — or BTUs — each year (Source: US Department of Energy). A BTU is roughly equal to the energy and heat generated by a match.
Oil, coal and natural gas supply nearly 88 percent of the world’s energy needs, or about 350 quadrillion BTUs.
This is when most of the major groups of animals first appeared on Earth.
The later fossil fuels — which provide more substandard fuels like peat or lignite coal (soft coal) — began forming as late as five million years ago in the Pliocene Period.