Animal IQ

LemurFaceID Is The Unconventional Way Technology Could Save Lemurs

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You may have a nifty new device that logs you in after recognizing your face with a quick scan. Well aren't you fancy. The next perfectly logical step is to extend this type of facial recognition software to lemurs. Wait, what?

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Do You Know This Lemur?

No one has applied facial recognition software to anything other than humans, until now. But why would they? According to a study published in BMC Zoology in February 2017, this type of software could be extremely helpful in furthering conservation efforts for lemurs. Oddly specific, right? Turns out, lemurs have unique facial characteristics, like humans, that can be recognized by recognition software. But unlike humans, software recognizes different fur patterns instead of distance between features. Right now, researchers basically just rely on their own brains to tell lemurs in the wild apart.

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A team of biologists and computer scientists have created the aptly named LemurFaceID to identify individual lemurs in the wild, providing an improved tracking method for the animal. The system can recognize more than 100 different individual lemurs quickly, and with 98.7 percent accuracy. This is a big upgrade to the old-fashioned way. Having to personally identify each is obviously not ideal, and capturing animals to tag or collar them is invasive, potentially harmful, and expensive. It's also not a great form of long-term monitoring, an issue LemurFaceID hopes to solve for.

Related: Marine Conservation: Why Do We Need to Save the Oceans?

Flowchart of LemurFaceID. Linear discriminant analysis (LDA) is used for reducing feature vector dimensionality to avoid overfitting.

Promising For Primates

If LemurFaceID turns out to be the solid tracking method researchers believe it will be, facial recognition software could be used on other animals to keep them as far from extinction as possible. Next up will likely be other primates, like monkeys and gibbons. Because scientists say more than 60 percent of primate species are at risk for extinction, facial recognition software could be a significant life-saver.

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Watch And Learn: Our Favorite Videos About Conservation

Scientists Test Facial Recognition for Lemurs

Does Hunting Exotic Animals Help Conservation?

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Key Facts In This Video

  1. The cost of big-game hunting permits can range from $10,000 to $350,000. 01:16

  2. Conservationists have turned to wealthy hunters for funding. 02:03

  3. Wild lion populations have decreased by 80% in the last 20 years. 03:14

How to Help Endangered Species

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