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:1/20/2016)... 2016   MedNet Solutions , an innovative SaaS-based ... clinical research, is pleased to announce the attainment of ... the result of the company,s laser focus on (and ... , it,s comprehensive, easy-to-use and highly affordable cloud-based technology ... Key MedNet growth achievements in 2015 include: ...
(Date:1/18/2016)... , Jan. 18, 2016  Extenua Inc., ... that simplifies the use and access of ubiquitous ... go-to-market partnership with American Cyber.  ... extensive experience leading transformational C4ISR and Cyber initiatives ... integrating the latest proven technology solutions," said ...
(Date:1/13/2016)... January 13, 2016 --> ... a new market report titled - Biometric Sensors Market - ... 2015 - 2023. According to the report, the global biometric sensors ... anticipated to reach US$1,625.8 mn by 2023, expanding at ... terms of volume, the biometric sensors market is expected ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:2/4/2016)... 4, 2016  CytoSorbents Corporation (NASDAQ: CTSO ... flagship CytoSorb® blood filter to treat deadly inflammation ... world, announced that CEO Dr. Phillip Chan ... Capital Group,s 2016 Disruptive Growth & Healthcare Conference, ... Conference Presentation Details: Where: Convene ...
(Date:2/4/2016)... BEIJING , Feb. 4, 2016 Sinovac ... ), a leading provider of biopharmaceutical products in ... committee of its board of directors received on February ... 3, 2016, from a consortium comprised of PKU V-Ming ... Sinobioway Biomedicine Co., Ltd., CICC Qianhai Development ( ...
(Date:2/3/2016)... , Feb. 3, 2016  Discovery Laboratories, Inc. ... on developing aerosolized KL4 surfactant therapies for respiratory ... has approved an inducement award as a component ... its newly appointed President and Chief Executive Officer.  ... Committee on February 1, 2016 and granted as ...
(Date:2/3/2016)... ... February 03, 2016 , ... Aerocom, a ... dedicated to the North American healthcare market. , Aerocom Healthcare, LLC will be ... The company will provide new pneumatic tube systems or expand existing systems within ...
Breaking Biology Technology: