Image interpretation is important to paleontology? Case studies in data acquisition, fidelity, and retrodeformation using bilaterally symmetric graptolite (Isograptus and Pseudisograptus) and trilobite (Triarthrus beckii and eatonii) fossils
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Many studies rely on images of fossil specimens. How does this affect paleontological studies based on taxonomy? My research consists of case studies in image, drawing fidelity, data acquisition, landmark fidelity, and retrodeformation using bilaterally symmetric graptolite and trilobite fossils. The fidelity case studies statistically compare shape variance within and between 9 camera lucida and 3 photographic data sets of 10 repeated colony images (drawing fidelity), each set digitized 5 times (landmark fidelity). Although operator and methodological effects on shape are significant, they do not overwhelm the distinction between the three original graptolite colonies. A new retrodeformation suite of software is employed to examine the problem of geologic deformation (shear) via simulated and natural fossil population trials, with an accompanying asymmetry metric. This method was able to restore shape in simulated fossils but not actual specimens. The results suggest other sources of asymmetry must be examined along with shear.