Navigation Links
Human, artificial intelligence join forces to pinpoint fossil locations
Date:11/21/2011

In 1991, a team led by Washington University in St. Louis paleoanthropologist Glenn Conroy, PhD, discovered the fossils of the first and still the only known pre-human ape ever found south of the equator in Africa after only 30 minutes of searching a limestone cave in Namibia.

Traditionally, fossil-hunters often could only make educated guesses as to where fossils lie. The rest lay with chance finding the proverbial needle in a haystack.

"I don't want to say it's total luck," says Conroy, professor of physical anthropology in Arts & Sciences, "but it's a combination of hard work, meticulous planning and, well, a good dose of luck."

But thanks to a software model used by Conroy and researchers at Western Michigan University, fossil-hunters' reliance on luck when finding fossils may be diminishing.

Using artificial neural networks (ANNs) computer networks that imitate the workings of the human brain Conroy and colleagues Robert Anemone, PhD, and Charles Emerson, PhD, developed a computer model that can pinpoint productive fossil sites in the Great Divide Basin, a 4,000-square-mile stretch of rocky desert in Wyoming.

The basin has proved to be a productive area for fossil hunters, yielding 50 million- to 70 million-year-old early mammal fossils.

The software builds on satellite imagery and maps fossil-hunters have used for years to locate the best fossil sites. It just takes the process a step further, Conroy says.

With information gathered from maps and satellite imagery such as elevation, slope, terrain and many other landscape features the ANN was "trained" to use details of existing fossiliferous areas to accurately predict the locations of other fossil sites elsewhere in the Great Divide Basin.

Because few sites are 100 percent identical, researchers had to "teach" the ANNs to recognize sites that shared key features in common. With the help of guidance from the scientists, the ANNs use pattern recognition to identify sites that share similar features.

"The beauty and power of neural networks lie in the fact that they are capable of learning," says Conroy, also a professor of anatomy and neurobiology at the School of Medicine. "You just need to give them a rule to deal with things they don't know."

Conroy and colleagues tested the software at the Great Divide Basin last summer. The ANNs correctly identified 79 percent of the area's known fossil sites, and 99 percent of the sites it tagged contained fossils.

Next up, the scientists tested the software on the nearby Bison Basin, also in Wyoming. Despite having been taught to recognize fossil sites at a neighboring location (the Great Divide Basin), the ANNs correctly identified four fossil sites in the Bison Basin.

"That gave us encouragement that a blind test based on a neural network for a different basin still gave us pretty good predictive results," Conroy says.

Next, Conroy is planning to continue to use the software to search for early hominid fossil sites in South Africa.

The scientists hope this new application of existing technology will help increase the efficiency of paleontological fieldwork.

"In the old days, we'd all bring different maps, and start walking," Conroy says. "Now, we're talking about ways to improve one's chances."


'/>"/>

Contact: Jessica Daues
jessica_daues@wustl.edu
314-935-5230
Washington University in St. Louis
Source:Eurekalert  

Related biology news :

1. Center integrates human, animal, environmental health
2. Taking the next step toward advanced artificial limbs
3. Researchers design artificial cells that could power medical implants
4. Evolved Machines Selected as a Prime Contractor for DARPA Program to Engineer an Artificial Olfaction System
5. Scientists identify cell changes leading to impaired artificial kidney function
6. Biomedical researchers create artificial human bone marrow in a test tube
7. TECNALIA uses artificial vision to improve recycling of electronic scrap metal
8. Artificial cells, simple model for complex structure
9. Red pandas reveal an unexpected (artificial) sweet tooth
10. Development of an artificial simulator of the nervous system to do research into diseases
11. Non-wovens as scaffolds for artificial tissue
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
Related Image:
Human, artificial intelligence join forces to pinpoint fossil locations
(Date:4/5/2017)... Today HYPR Corp. , leading innovator ... of the HYPR platform is officially FIDO® Certified ... architecture that empowers biometric authentication across Fortune 500 enterprises ... over 15 million users across the financial services industry, ... product suites and physical access represent a growing portion ...
(Date:4/3/2017)...  Data captured by IsoCode, IsoPlexis Corporation,s ... statistically significant association between the potency of ... objective response of cancer patients post-treatment. The ... cancer patients will respond to CAR-T cell ... to improve both pre-infusion potency testing and cell ...
(Date:3/30/2017)... Trends, opportunities and forecast in this market ... (fingerprint, AFIS, iris recognition, facial recognition, hand geometry, vein ... use industry (government and law enforcement, commercial and retail, ... others), and by region ( North America ... Pacific , and the Rest of the World) ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:5/24/2017)... ... May 24, 2017 , ... Patient ... developed with Wi-Fi connectivity to reduce the amount of wiring in a healthcare ... addition, compact mobile devices including infusion pumps, heart and hypertension monitoring, glucose monitoring, ...
(Date:5/23/2017)... ... 2017 , ... Firmex today announced the general ... for organizations to send and gather large files and confidential documents beyond the ... size limitations. , Using the same market-tested infrastructure as Firmex’s flagship Virtual ...
(Date:5/23/2017)... ... May 23, 2017 , ... ... source of human cardiovascular cells for research and the development of cardiac ... possible to generate large numbers of cardiomyocytes (hPSC-CMs). Due to varying differentiation ...
(Date:5/23/2017)... ... May 22, 2017 , ... NetDimensions has been ranked as ... Globe™ for Corporate Learning, 2017. , Aragon Research defines Leaders as organizations who ... perform against those strategies. NetDimensions’ ranking as a Leader due to its strengths ...
Breaking Biology Technology: