Artificial Intelligence Helps Spot Fossil Sites

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Artificial-intelligence networks could help pinpoint new fossil sites across thousands of square miles of desert, scientists have found.

The new fossil-hunting computer program relies on the fact it can learn and incorporate a broad swath of information from its "experiences" to know what to look for when scanning for fossil sites. As such, the intelligent machine has a big advantage over traditional methods, in which fossil-hunters often could only make educated guesses as to where fossils might lie — for instance, walking down dried-up riverbeds to look for bones that erosion might have uncovered on the slopes.

"So much when it comes to discovery of fossils is based on luck and serendipity," paleoanthropologist Glenn Conroy at Washington University in St. Louis told LiveScience. A team he led in 1991 discovered the fossils of the first-known — and still the only known — pre-human ape ever found south of the equator, in a limestone cave in Namibia....

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