The May issue of Scientific American features an article co-written by Robert L. Anemone, professor and head of UNCG’s Department of Anthropology.
In the article, Anemone and his co-author, Charles W. Emerson, associate professor of geography at Western Michigan University, discuss new computer models that analyze hidden patterns in satellite images to generate maps of where fossils are likely to be found.
Trial runs in Wyoming’s Great Divide Basin in 2012 and 2013 showed promising results for Anemone and Emerson’s method. In 2009, Anemone and his students had uncovered a cache of Eocene mammal fossils there in a hotspot they dubbed “Tim’s Confession” after one of the students. Employing the satellite technique in the region, the researchers found vertebrate fossils in 25 of 31 areas they pinpointed.
“We are convinced that with these tools we can put the future of paleontological exploration on a more secure and scientific footing and reduce the role of serendipity in finding important fossils,” they wrote. “Piecing together the origin and evolution of life on earth is too interesting and important an endeavor to leave to chance. And we can’t afford to wait another 15 years to find the next ‘Tim’s Confession.’”