Morphing Dinos

Part of the Dinosaurs: Ancient Fossils, New Discoveries exhibition.

Kent Stevens at the computer using his own DinoMorph™ software.
from AMNH video © 2005


Computer scientist Kent Stevens gave a name to his simulation program before he'd written a line of code. "I just thought DinoMorph™ sounded great," he recalls. Dr. Stevens created a simple program that transformed--or morphed--one dinosaur into another and showed it to his software engineering class. "Here's the kind of thing I want the program to do," he said, "So let's go build it."

But what started as a programming exercise soon morphed into a useful research tool. The concept excited paleontologists, who realized that they could use an anatomically correct virtual sauropod to answer questions they couldn't tackle with real specimens in museums. For instance: What was the animal's resting pose, and what range of motion could its neck and tail attain?