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AI-Based Tomographic Image Analysis in Paleontology
Automating Microfossil Identification for Higher Accuracy
Paleontology is the study of the forms of life existing in former geological periods, as represented by the fossils of plants, animals, and other organisms. Artificial intelligence is being harnessed by paleontologists to identify and extract fossils, and to analyze and simulate the habitat of living beings of a given geological period.
Computed Tomography (CT) offers paleontologists a more accurate and time saving alternative to manually isolating, analyzing, and identifying microfossils. AI-based tomographic image analysis software can identify and extract microfossils on its own, rendering supervision throughout the analysis unnecessary. Tomographic image analysis creates a 3D model of a fossil from a sequence of 2D slices.
Using tomographic image analysis, a paleontologist’s work is reduced to loading a tomographic sample, selecting the correct pipeline, and leaving the procedure to execute throughout the night. All that is left for the paleontologist to do is to evaluate the obtained results and to classify each extracted microfossil.
CT is becoming increasingly popular because of its ease of use and for its non-destructive study of microfossils. Because CT preserves samples, paleontologists are leveraging the technology to analyze samples several times. With this innovation, many analyses and simulations can be performed and processes can be automated, providing ease and more precise information to paleontologists.
AI-Based Tomographic Image Analysis
The arrival of AI-based tomographic image analysis in paleontology allows fossils to be characterized in three-dimensions and in extraordinary detail. The automated reconstruction of fossils provides paleontologists the ability to test hypotheses regarding the function of extinct organisms, using rigorous functional analyses of the fossil.
Tomographic image analysis is not only useful for extinct organisms. Paleontologists are reaching breakthroughs in anatomical research by using fossils to better understand extant organisms, too. Furthermore, the growing digital library of fossil species is permitting paleontologists to carry out comparative functional analyses and understand trends in functional evolution.
Widespread sharing, researching, and understanding of rare fossil material is possible for the first time as a result of digitized datasets. Fossils are now being studied more in-depth and in greater detail than ever before, unveiling and informing different evolutionary theories, hypothesis, and research questions.
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This content is part of the life sciences section of Vision Online. To learn more about Life Sciences, click here.