January 28, 2000
Colloquium Speaker: Ralph Chapman
Mr. Ralph Chapman has been with the Department of Paleobiology, National Museum of National History (NMNH), Smithsonian Institution, since 1981. He received his M.S. degree in geology and paleontology from the University of Rochester and B.A. in biology from the University of Bridgeport. At NMNH, he has held several positions of increasing responsibility and since 1987, has been the Manager, Applied Morphometrics Laboratory, focusing on the development and application of morphometric techniques to evolutionary problems with specialization in dinosaurs and related trilobites. Mr. Chapman is an Instructor in the Resident Associates Program related to Dinosaurs and Paleontology. His responsibilities also include developing advanced computer technology for use of research staff of NMNH. Mr. Chapman has published widely, given innumerable talks, has been a featured paleontologist on the Learning, and the Discovery Channels, and served as a scientific consultant for James Gurney's best-selling book Donotopia: The World Beneath and for children's album, Dinosaur Rock by Michelle Valeine and Michael Stein. He is a member of the International Paleontological Union and IEEE.
Modern technology has provided many options for learning about the biology of dinosaurs and other prehistoric organisms and has tranformed methods to explore, excavate, map, prepare and assemble fossil remains. It has enhanced research on the organisms, and has facilitated the study of their morphology and relationships, and their distribution through time and space. Three-dimensional computer models of organisms allow understanding their biology as will be illustrated by the studies of dinosaurs concentrating on the development of the virtual Triceratops, the first and most important mount of that animal. An exciting possibility is to use the virtual Triceratops to determine how each of the joints of the skeleton worked biomechanically and indeed make the virtual animal walk. The first animations ever completed for the virtual Triceratops will be shown.