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Search for fossils from the comfort of home

New citizen science website seeks help classifying photos

By
9:00am, November 29, 2015
Fossil Finder screenshot

INTERNET SEARCH  To better understand the past environment of Kenya’s Lake Turkana Basin, FossilFinder.org asks volunteers to scrutinize thousands of aerial photos taken at the site.

“Armchair anthropologist” takes on new meaning at FossilFinder.org. The citizen science website is seeking volunteers to look for fossils and stone tools and to classify rocks captured in aerial photos of Kenya’s Lake Turkana Basin. The basin has been home to important discoveries in human evolution, including many hominid fossils and the earliest known stone tools (SN: 6/13/15, p. 6).

Researchers at the University of Bradford in England and the Turkana Basin Institute teamed up to create Fossil Finder. Using radio-controlled helicopters, as well as cameras hung from kites and photographic poles, the team has collected more than 900,000 images from a roughly 4-hectare swath of land. About 46,000 of these photos are online and more are being added regularly, says project coinvestigator Adrian Evans of Bradford.

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