Predictive Map Leads Fossil Hunters to Pay Dirt [Slide Show]

New technique helps paleontologists narrow their search for ancient bones

Image: Robert Anemone

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Researchers have long relied heavily on luck when it comes to finding fossils. In the May Scientific American paleontologist Robert Anemone of the University of North Carolina at Greensboro and geographer Charles Emerson of Western Michigan University, describe a novel approach to locating these ancient needles in a haystack. They have developed computer models that analyze satellite images of a region to find unexplored areas bearing the same radiation signature as known fossil sites, and may thereby harbor remains of interest. Recently they put their new technique to the test, taking the predictive maps generated by the models into the Great Divide Basin in Wyoming and prospecting for fossils in those areas identified by the models as likely to contain fossils.

>> View a slide show of photos from the expedition

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