Developments in data science solutions for carnivore tooth pit classification

Lloyd A. Courtenay, Darío Herranz-Rodrigo, Diego González-Aguilera, José Yravedra
2021 Scientific Reports  
AbstractCompetition for resources is a key question in the study of our early human evolution. From the first hominin groups, carnivores have played a fundamental role in the ecosystem. From this perspective, understanding the trophic pressure between hominins and carnivores can provide valuable insights into the context in which humans survived, interacted with their surroundings, and consequently evolved. While numerous techniques already exist for the detection of carnivore activity in
more » ... ological and palaeontological sites, many of these techniques present important limitations. The present study builds on a number of advanced data science techniques to confront these issues, defining methods for the identification of the precise agents involved in carcass consumption and manipulation. For the purpose of this study, a large sample of 620 carnivore tooth pits is presented, including samples from bears, hyenas, jaguars, leopards, lions, wolves, foxes and African wild dogs. Using 3D modelling, geometric morphometrics, robust data modelling, and artificial intelligence algorithms, the present study obtains between 88 and 98% accuracy, with balanced overall evaluation metrics across all datasets. From this perspective, and when combined with other sources of taphonomic evidence, these results show that advanced data science techniques can be considered a valuable addition to the taphonomist's toolkit for the identification of precise carnivore agents via tooth pit morphology.
doi:10.1038/s41598-021-89518-4 pmid:33986378 pmcid:PMC8119709 fatcat:n7vqzllh6ra2rgnttgvqfafbqq