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Index fossils are fossils which are characteristic of a given layer in the stratigraphy. These are widely used to study the biostratigraphy. Suitable index fossils are fossils that have a limited distribution in time, have a large range and are not rare. The best index fossils have evolved quickly and have a short life span. On the basis of index fossils, layers can quickly and easily be dated. For more extensive dating, it is important to combine various dating methods.
Graptolites are important index fossils in the Silurian and Ordovician age. Ammonites are important index fossils for the Jurassic and Cretaceous era. Previously, especially macro fossils such as ammonites and graptolites were used. Nowadays, especially micro fossils such as conodonts and foraminifera are used. For the dating of rock samples from drilling, for example, preferably micro fossils are used, because they appear many times more in a small sample.
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