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Fossil-Finding From Your Couch, With Kenya Photos

Dec 02, 2015 06:12 PM EST
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In light of the huge mass of fossils found in the last year or so, do you too want to get started in visually sifting dirt and learning about ancient materials? If so, how's from your Barcalounger sound, for low impact fossil-finding?

The citizen-science website FossilFinder.org is still looking for volunteers to look for stone tools and fossils and classify rocks in aerial photos of the Lake Turkana Basin, in Kenya. It's an area that has been rich with discovery--in the past, there have been findings regarding human evolution, such as hominid fossils and the earliest-known stone tools.

The U.K.'s University of Bradford and the Turkana Basin Institute are the team behind Fossil Finder. They collected upwards of 900,000 images from land measuring about four hectares--they were using radio-controlled helicopters and cameras suspended from kites and photographic poles. Roughly 46,000 of the images are currently online; more are added regularly, project co-investigator Adrian Evans, of Bradford, said in a statement.

"The aim is to surpass what could be ordinarily achieved with a more traditional boots-on-the-ground model of exploration," Evans said in the statement. "With more eyes carefully surveying the area, the team hopes to get a better look at Lake Turkana's past environment.

While the website doesn't have a tutorial, pop-up windows tell you what to look for and how to put types of rocks, fossils and other objects into various classes. While some of the photos have a higher resolution, some are a bit blurry. There's progress ahead of you, though: Users have done analysis of more than 32,000 images already. Some finds have included hippopotamus teeth, an extinct crocodile specimen and stone tools.

The team will likely visit Lake Turkana in person in February to look at those and other discoveries.

For more great nature science stories and general news, please visit our sister site, Headlines and Global News (HNGN).

-Follow Catherine on Twitter @TreesWhales

 

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