Virtual Anthropology meets Biomechanics

21.10.2010 10:00 AM to 19.10.2010 6:00 PM


Dept. of Anthropology
University of Vienna
Althanstr. 14
A-1090 Vienna, Austria
Seminar Room Anthropology # 2.001

Organised by:

Gerhard Weber (Chairman EVAN-Society)


Weber GW, Bookstein FL, and Strait DS. in print (2011). Virtual anthropology meets biomechanics. J Biomech DOI:10.1016/j.jbiomech.2011.02.079.

The workshop brought together international researchers from two domains for sustained discussion of methodological issues underlying the many current applications of biomechanics to virtual representations of fossil hominoids. Our two communities share many tools, including medical imaging hardware, segmentation software, and approaches to the reconstruction of biological objects. Currently there are multiple efforts to adapt Geometric Morphometrics, another VA tool, for these and other shared purposes. GM generally allows the import of statistical ideas into VA – considerations of prior quantitative knowledge and aspects of prior expectations and probabilities for variation of form within and between subsamples. But biomechanical simulations of skulls and other skeletal elements are based on Finite Element Analysis (FEA), a technology linking form with function that is not at present particularly focused on matters of error or variability. On the other hand, the representations that GM uses for form variation do not incorporate finite elements or their parameters and do not articulate easily with FEA formulas, based as they are on material properties and muscle physiology.

The aim of this workshop was to pool experts from the two domains in a room in order to exchange ideas, share notes about successful strategies, discuss open problems, and, in general, explore how each of these technologies might fertilize the other.

We had about 50 experts participating, speakers were : Stefano Benazzi (U Vienna), Fred Bookstein (U Vienna), Michael Fagan (U Hull), Ian Grosse (U Massachusetts), Ottmar Kullmer (Senckenberg Museum), Kornelius Kupczik (Max Planck Leipzig), Paul O’Higgins (U York), Dieter Pahr (TU Vienna), Brian Richmond (GW University), David Strait (U Albany), Gerhard Weber (U Vienna), Stephen Wroe (U South Wales), Ulrich Witzel (U Bochum)