Opening Keynote
August 29 7:00pm-11:15pm

7:00-8:00 Welcoming Reception, display of evolutionary art

8:00-8:15 Welcome by Sara Diamond and Bruce Damer

Sara and Bruce discussed the importance of cooperation between digital artists, paleontologists and computer researchers, noting how synergy created by cooperation between these disparate fields can do nothing but enhance the progress made by the individual disciplines.

8:15-9:00 Film and computer graphics documentary on the Burgess Shale Fauna

Conference participants were introduced to the story behind the discovery of the Burgess Fauna through a documentary provided by the Discovery Channel. The film made extensive use of computer animation to depict life in the Cambrian era. It also featured interviews with one of the Digital Burgess keynote speakers, Desmond Collins.

9:00-9:30 Paul Johnston: the Royal Tyrell Museum--Bringing the Burgess Shale to the Public

Paul's presentation revolved around the challenges museum curators and designers face making the prehistoric life of the Cambrian era accessible to the public. Cambrian life forms have to compete for the attention spans of museum visitors. Dr. Johnston had two suggestionns for ways to prevent Cambrian insights from being lost in the Devonian onslaught.

  • First, visitors could effectively be shrunk to the size of prototypical Cambrian creatures by enlarging the model life forms. Even the most jaded museum goer would pay attention to an Anomalocaris the size of a Harley Davidson motorcycle.

  • Second, Cambrian exhibits would benefit from a splash of color--if computer artists took their cues from the structural and pigment-based colorations present in modern-day analogs to the Cambrian fauna, museum displays would be much more lively.

Paul's presentation was thus a brief review of the problems museum curators face, and a challenge to the digital community to explore their creative limits in the depiction of Cambrian creatures.

9:30-9:50 Intermission

9:50-10:20 Desmond Collins on the lessons of the Burgess Shale Fauna

Dr. Collins began his speech with a brief history of the discovery of the Burgess Shale before delving into an exploration of the morphology of Cambrian life forms. He discussed the difficulties involved in reconstructing Burgess fauna, one example being the early mis-identification of Anomalocaris as two different organisms. Persistance on the part of paleontolgists not only integrated the parts into the Anomalocaris we know and love today, but also inspired other paleontologists to right Hallucigenia, giving it spikes with which to protect itself and legs with which to walk.

He pointed out that the main lesson to be learned from the Burgess Shale is that there is always more to learn and surprises await Paleontoogists at every turn.

10:20-10:45 Randall Robertson on the Burgess Shale foundation and visiting the Shale

Dr. Robertson discussed the importance of preserving the Burgess Shale, and traced the evolution of the Burgess Shale Foundation. The foundation plays a crucial role in preserving the Burgess Shale, and relies upon public financial support to do so. Your support of the Foundation's preservation efforts is appreciated and is what enabled Digital Burgess's trek to the Burgess Shale.

10:45-11:00 Bruce Damer: Administrative concerns and preparations for the Burgess Shale Hike

Bruce finished the evening by discussing the logistics underlying the conference participants' trek to the Shale the following day.

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