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Models Predict Location of New Megafauna Fossils

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An international team of scientists has used the estimated ages and spatial distribution of Australian megafauna fossils to develop mathematical models that predict the most likely locations of undiscovered fossil deposits. Published in PLOS ONE (http://tinyurl.com/jkxh3jf), the models were developed for Australia but can be adapted for fossil-hunters in other continents.

“A chain of ideal conditions must occur for fossils to form, which means they are extremely rare, so finding as many as possible can tell us more of what the past was like, and why certain species went extinct,” says Prof Corey Bradshaw of The University of Adelaide.

“Typically, however, we use haphazard ways to find fossils. Mostly people just go to excavation sites and surrounding areas where fossils have been found before. We hope our models will make it easier for palaeontologists and archaeologists to identify new fossil sites that could yield vast treasures of prehistoric information.”

The team modelled the past distribution of species, the geological suitability of fossil preservation and the likelihood of fossil discovery in the field. They applied this information to a range of Australian megafauna that became extinct over the last 50,000 years, such as the giant terror bird Genyornis, the rhino-sized...

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.