Artificial Intelligence distinguishes between 1000 year old ancient human and dog poo


A newly developed artificial intelligence system may be able to distinguish between ancient human and dog poo, on sites where both species once cohabited.

The team of researchers who write in the journal PeerJ may be able to differentiate between the thousands-of-years-old stool samples through DNA data.

Analysing the fossilised faeces could help discover a lot more about diet, health and the identity of who pooped, reports Smithsonian Mag.

Years ago, human and canine DNA often got mixed up because dogs would roam around and snack on human faeces.

Human’s would often, at times, eat dog meat – all of which would make it difficult to tell both defecator’s poo’s apart.

A computer program can identify between human and dog poo

A team led by Maxime Borry of Germany’s Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History have trained a computer to analyse the samples and compare the fossilised faeces to modern-day human and dog poo.

Out of 20 samples, the research struggled to identify some – which could be because they appeared similar to neither dog nor human samples.

Smithsonian Mag suggests: “People who had recently eaten large quantities of dog meat, for instance, might have thrown the program for a loop.

Ancient poo could tell us the history of human and dog companionship

“Alternatively, ancient dogs with unusual diets could have harboured gut microbes that differed vastly from their peers, or from modern samples.”

Ainara Sistiaga, a molecular geoarchaeologist at the University of Copenhagen who wasn’t involved in the study suggests the reason for the struggles in the research could be because only the faeces of modern western dogs were uses as a comparison.

With these issues along with others, Lisa-Marie Shillito, an archaeologist at Newcastle University who wasn’t involved in the study, tells Michael Le Page of New Scientist: “there are definite issues that need to be resolved before the method can be used widely,”

The research could eventually tell us a lot more about the history of humans and dogs, and how humans came to become close companions.

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