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Hi everybody,

I recently subscribed this list only because I have always been
fascinated by dinosaurs. My technical knowledge is very poor and I am
very glad to read your e-mails, learning slowly from all of you.
I have one question that could sound a bit naive to experts like you,
but I would love to get an answer:

I visited the some website last week
(www.discovery.com/area/specials/goni/dispatche/day4.html) hosted by an
expedition heading towards the Gobi desert seeking fossils.
In one article titled "How fossils go from bone to stone", the following
part struck me:
"A fine fossil is a freak of nature. The dead animal first must avoid
scavengers, floods and other scattering forces. Then it must be buried
in something that's neither too soggy nor completely dry, in a climate
that won't subject it to swelling/shrinking cycles that will splinter
it. AND IT HAS TO STAY THERE FOR A TIME PERIOD WE'LL JUST CALL "AGES",
SINCE FOSSILIZATION TIME CAN VARY WILDLY. (THE CITIZENS OF POMPEII WERE
ROCK-SOLID IN UNDER 2000 YEARS; YET SOME 65 MILLION-YEAR-OLD-DINOSAUR
BONES ARE STILL NOT COMPLETELY STONE.)"

Such a huge difference in timing to achieve the same phenomenon looks
impossible to me. Are we that sure these fossils are actually 65
million  years old ? How accurate is the dating process ? Is it absolute
or does it involve some stable environmental conditions (such as the
carbone rate in the atmosphere or the cycles of the sun...whatever could
generate a big mistake in any dating process if ignored)? Has any
parameter been forgotten for simplification purposes ?

Thanking in advance any person who would take a few minutes to answer
Sincerely yours
Antoine