Predicting Dinosaur Tracks: Finding Fossil Sites with GIS

Gone are the days when fossil site discovery was done based on guesswork. Things have gotten a whole lot easier for archeologists with the advent of GIS (geographic information system) technology. The remote-sensing tools have made it possible for scientists to discover fossil sites using modern technology and discover dinosaur tracks in the most efficient way possible. What’s the first thing that comes to your mind when you think about dinosaur footprints? For most people, it refers to the solid footprints preserved on the top layer of Earth.

Contrary to what most people believe, dinosaurs’ movements are not as easy to track as capturing the footmarks on the top surface of the earth. First of all, these footprints cannot be preserved for centuries. Secondly, dinosaurs’ footprints are often found deep inside the ground, as these creatures had the habit to sink their feet deep when moving. That’s why scientists use tools like remote sensors and GIS to capture a clear picture of the dinosaur’s footprints available deep in the muddy ground.

How Geospatial Variables Help is Fossil Detection?

Geospatial tools have proven to be the most reliable and effective way of tracking dinosaurs’ movements, including other applications in archeology. Archeologists have already embraced geospatial variables, not only because they offer the highest level of accuracy in capturing pictures, but these tools are designed to give you a deeper and clear image of objects that are not visible to the human’s naked eye. Field testing showed us that the geospatial model was successful in fossil fuel discovery, especially in predicting the surfaces with low, medium, and high fossil likelihood.

GIS in Paleontology

For anyone involved in the field of paleontology, fossil discovery is the most crucial and sensitive aspect of their career. Ask any researcher or an employee in the paleontology department and they will tell you how they are supposed to go to remote areas, build their own shelters, drive up to 10 miles just to discover fossils that date back to hundreds of thousands of years ago. Earlier, finding fossils was only a job of luck. As archeology departments have limited resources and money, most of their missions of discovering fossil sites would fail.

That’s where GIS came into the picture. The images captured through satellites, not only give you a better vision of the areas that are potentially the fossil sites but the technology eased archaeologists’ burden. Now, finding the fossil sites is only a one-step solution, as all that a researcher has to do is tag the locations that might contain dinosaurs’ footprints, instead of visiting different remote areas and exploring these areas for several days. The technology has been used since the 1970s. Even though it may not be strong enough to detect the fossils directly, GIS has the potential to pinpoint the areas that might contain the footprints of dinosaurs. That’s possible for the satellites that are designed to detect electromagnetic radiation, which humans cannot control or detect using traditional exploration techniques.