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Innovations in Palaeontology Lecture Series

We are pleased to announce that Dr Stephan Lautenschlager from the University of Birmingham has been appointed as the PalAss Exceptional Lecturer for 2019/20.

Palaeontology 2.0 - reconstructing lost worlds using digital visualisation and computational analyses:

Traditionally, palaeontology has a reputation of being a dry and dusty discipline. However, recent advances in computer technology have transformed the way fossils can be studied. Virtual reality, digital restoration and reconstruction and computer simulations to test fossil form and function relations, now allow obtaining a plethora of new data from old fossils and rigorous, hypothesis-driven studies. Integrating classic palaeontological research with these novel, digital approaches holds a vast potential to address large-scale evolutionary questions and to reconstruct fossil organisms and ecosystems.


In this lecture, I will introduce different methods and approaches within the newly emerging field of “Virtual Palaeontology” and outline specific applications based on case studies: (1) The use of digital tools to virtually prepare, repair and restore fossils; (2) digital reconstruction of soft-tissue structures (musculature, brain, inner ear) in fossil vertebrates to obtain and infer palaeobiology and palaeobehaviour; (3) biomechanical analysis using digital models to investigate functional properties of fossil organisms and to address macroevolutionary questions. While these examples largely focus on vertebrate fossils, the potential for wider application to various fossil organisms and related disciplines, including geology and biology, exists and could ultimately be used in an interdisciplinary and complementary approach.

Dr Stephan Lautenschlager - 2019/20 PalAss Exceptional Lecturer

Want Stephan to visit your institution?

We invite interested institutions to apply to host Stephan via the Association’s website. Please provide a timeframe (between September 2019 – May 2020) during which you would like Stephen to give a lecture at your institution. The list of interested institutions will be forwarded to the him on 1st May, although any applications from institutions submitted after this date will still be considered depending on the remaining time and budget. The Association will pay for any reasonable travel costs incurred by the Exceptional Lecturer in visiting each of the host institutions (up to a maximum of £500 for per lecture). The host institutions are expected to cover costs for accommodation (where necessary) and hospitality. 

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