Long Distance Prospecting – #365papers – 2018 – 61

Conroy, Emerson, Anemone, and Townsend, 2012, Let your fingers do the walking: A simple spectral signature model for “remote” fossil prospecting: Journal of Human Evolution, v. 63, p. 79-84.

What’s it about?

The authors demonstrate the utility of satellite imagery combined with surface observations and GIS software to make predictions about where fossil localities may be located.

In this paper, the authors used imagery from the Uinta Basin and ‘trained’ an Artificial Neural Network (ANN) to find places where fossil vertebrates may be located based upon known vertebrate localities in the basin. Localities identified in the years following the implementation of the ANN all occur where the ANN predicted they may be.

Why does it matter?

A lot of time in paleontology is spent walking outcrops in the hopes that fossils may be found. The method shown in this paper will make it easier for scientists to find the best places to prospect, thereby resulting in more efficiency in the field.

Why did I read this?

I had two reasons to read this. One is that I’ve always been interested in applications of GIS in vertebrate paleontology. This application is pretty neat! The other is that I am currently involved in research in the Uinta Basin, so I might have ulterior motives.

What did I learn?

I learned that GIS technology is more powerful than I thought and that I really want to get my hands on those maps that the authors generated!


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