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DigiMorph Staff Profile


Matthew W. Colbert
Research Associate
The University of Texas at Austin
email: colbert@utexas.edu
phone: 512-471-0260

B.A. Paleontology and Zoology, The University of California at Berkeley (1986)
M.S. Biology, San Diego State University (1993)
Ph.D. Geological Sciences, The University of Texas at Austin (1999)

DigiMorph Contributions

I have been employed at the UT High-Resolution X-ray CT Facility since the Spring of 1999 as a Research Associate.

Research Interests

My research primarily involves the use of X-ray computerized tomography to visualize and describe vertebrate cranial morphology. A particular focus of my investigations has been on patterns of evolutionary and ontogenetic variation in the Tapiroidea (Mammalia: Perissodactyla). Other research directions that I have pursued involve establishing methodologies for characterizing and interpreting developmental sequences, and the use of HRXCT to document the taphonomic history of vertebrate skulls.



Rundle, S.D., J.J. Smirthwaite, M.W Colbert, J.I. Spicer. 2010. Predator cues alter the sequence of developmental events in gastropod embryos. Biological Letters 7:285-287.

Ladavèze, S., C. de Muizon, Matthew Colbert, T. Smith. 2010. 3D computational imaging of the petrosal of a new multituberculate mammal from the Late Cretaceous of China and its paleobiologic inferences. Comptes Rendus Palevol 9:283-287.

Coleman, M.N., R.F. Kay, M.W. Colbert. 2010. Auditory morphology and hearing sensitivity in fossil New World monkeys. The Anatomical Record 293:1711-1721.

Zolensky, M., J. Herrin, T. Mikouchi,K. Ohsumi, J. Friedrich, A. Steele, D. Rumble, M. Fries, S. Sandford, S. Milam, K. Hagiya, H. Takeda, W. Satake, T. Kurihara, M. Colbert, R. Hanna, J. Maisano, R. Ketcham, C. Goodrich, L. Le, G. Robinson, J. Martinez, K. Ross, P. Jenniskens, M.H. Shaddad. 2010. Mineralogy and petrography of the Almahata Sitta ureilite. Meteoritics and Planetary Science 45:1618-1637.

Ryan, T.M., M.Colbert, R.A. Ketcham, C.J. Vinyard. 2010. Trabecular bone structure in the mandibular condyles of gouging and nongouging platyrrhine primates. American Journal of Physical Anthropology 141:583-593.

Coleman, M.N., and M.W. Colbert. 2010. Correlations between auditory structures and hearing sensitivity in non-human primates. Journal of Morphology 271:511-532.

de Jong, I.M.L, M.W. Colbert, F. Wittle, M.K. Richardson. 2009. Polymorphism in developmental timing: intraspecific heterochrony in a Lake Victoria cichlid. Evolution & Development 11:625-635.

Brinkman, D., M.C. Aquillon-Martinez, C. Arturo de Leon Davila, H. Jamniczky, D.A.Eberth, M. Colbert. 2009. Euclastes coahuilaensis sp. nov., a basal cheloniid turtle from the late Campanian Cerro del Pueblo Formation of Coahuila State, Mexico. PaleoBios 28:76-88.

Kay, R.F., J.G. Fleagle, T.R.T. Mitchell, M. Colbert, T. Bown, D.W. Powers. 2008. The anatomy of Dolichocebus gaimanensis, a stem platyrrhine from Argentina. Journal of Human Evolution 54:323-382.

Colbert, M.W. and T. Rowe. 2008. Ontogenetic Sequence Analysis: Using parsimony to characterize developmental sequences and sequence polymorphism. Journal of Experimental Zoology (Molecular and Developmental Evolution) 310B:398-416

Colbert, M. 2007. New fossil discoveries and the history of Tapirus. Tapir Conservation. The Newsletter of the IUCN/SSC Tapir Specialist Group 16:12-14.

Bininda-Emonds, O.R.P., J.E. Jeffery, M.R. Sanchez-Villagra, J. Hanken, M.W. Colbert, C. Pieau, L. Selwood, C.J. ten Cate, A. Raynaud, C.K. Osabutey, and M.K. Richardson. 2007. Forelimb-hindlimb developmental timing differences across tetrapod phylogeny. BMC Evolutionary Biology 7:182. http://www.biomedcentral.com/1471-2148/7/182

Clemens, W.A., M.B. Goodwin, J.H. Hutchison, C.R. Schaff, C.B. Wood, and M.W. Colbert. 2007. First record of a Jurassic mammal (?“Peramura”) from Ethiopia. Acta Palaeontologica Polonica 52:433-439.

Fajardo, R.J., R. Müller, R.A. Ketcham, M. Colbert. 2007. Nonhuman anthropoid primate femoral neck trabecular architecture and its relationship to locomotor mode. The Anatomical Record 280:422-436.

Coleman, M.N. and M.W. Colbert. 2007. CT thresholding protocols for taking measurements on three-dimensional models. American Journal of Physical Anthropology 133:723-725.

Colbert, M.W. 2006. Hesperaletes (Mammalia, Perissodactyla), a new tapiroid from the middle Eocene of southern California. Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology 26:697-711.

Colbert, M.W. 2006. Variation and species recognition in Eocene tapirs from southern California. Journal of Veretebrate Paleontology 26:712-719.

Colbert, M.W. 2006. Remembrances of Edwin H. Colbert, Paleontologist. Iguana 13:149-153.

Colbert, M.W. 2006. Ein kurzer Exkurs in die Geschichte der Tapire. In: Die Tapire. S. Todd & U. Ganslosser, Eds. Filander Verlag, Fürth, Germany: 25-45.

Brinkman, D., M. Hart, H. Jamniczky, and M. Colbert. 2006. Nichollsemys baieri gen. et sp. nov, a primitive chelonioid turtle from the late Campanian of North America. Paludicola 5:111-124.

Lipka, T.R., F. Therrien, D.B. Weishampel, H.A. Jamnickzky, W.G. Joyce, M.W. Colbert¸ and D.B. Brinkman. 2006. A new turtle from the Arundel Clay facies (Potomac Formation, Early Cretaceous) of Maryland, U.S.A. Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology 26: 300-307.

Colbert, M. W. 2005. The facial skeleton of the Early Oligocene Colodon (Perissodactyla, Tapiroidea). Palaeontologia Electronica 8: 12A, 27p. 600 KB (http://palaeo-electronica.org/paleo/2005_1/colbert12/issue1_05.htm). Supplemental material: http://digimorph.org/specimens/colodon_cf_occidentalis/AMNH/

Colbert, M.W., R. Racicot, and T. Rowe. 2005. Anatomy of the cranial endocast of Tursiops truncatus, based on HRXCT. Journal of Mammalian Evolution. 12: 197-209. Supplemental material: http://digimorph.org/specimens/Tursiops_truncatus/

Bever, G.S., T. Rowe, E.G. Ekdale, T.E. Macrini, M.W. Colbert, and A.M. Balanoff. 2005. Comment to “Independent Origins of Middle Ear bones in Monotremes and Therians”. Science 309:1492a.

Kay, R.F., V.M. Campbell, J.B. Rossie, M.W. Colbert, and T.B. Rowe. 2004. Olfactory fossa of Tremacebus harringtoni (Platyrrhini, Early Miocene, Sacanana, Argentina): implications for activity pattern. Anatomical Record, Part A 281A: 1157-1172. Supplemental material: http://digimorph.org/specimens/Tremacebus_harringtoni/

Mickler, P.J., R.A. Ketcham, M.W. Colbert, and J.L. Banner. 2004. Application of high-resolution X-ray computed tomography in determining the suitability of speleothem for use in paleoclimatic, paleohydrologic reconstructions. Journal of Cave and Karst Studies 66: 3-8. Supplemental material: http://www.ctlab.geo.utexas.edu/pubs/mickleretal/mickleretal.htm

Carlson, W.D., T. Rowe, R.A. Ketcham, M.W. Colbert. 2003. Geological applications of high-resolution and X-ray computed tomography in petrology, meteorics and palaeontology. In F. Mees, R. Swennen, M. Van Geet, and P. Jacobs, Eds. Applications of X-ray computed tomography in the geosciences 215: 7-22. Geological Society, London.

Stuppy, W. H., J.A. Maisano, M.W. Colbert, P.J. Rudall, and T.B. Rowe. 2003. Three-dimensional analysis of plant structure using high-resolution X-ray computed tomography. Trends in Plant Science 8: 2-6.

Tykoski, R.S., T.B. Rowe, R.A. Ketcham, M.W. Colbert. 2002. Calsoyasuchus valliceps, a new crocodyliform from the early Jurassic Kayenta Formation of Arizona. Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology. Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology 22(3): 593-611. Supplemental material: http://digimorph.org/specimens/calsoyasuchusvalliceps/

Rowe, T., R.A. Ketcham, C. Denison, M. Colbert, X. Xu, and P.J. Currie. 2001. Forensic Paleontology: The Archaeoraptor forgery. Nature 410: 540-541.

Bell, C. and M.W. Colbert. 2000. Basic Vertebrate Cranial Osteology. Beta-test version. CD-ROM available on request.

Rowe, T., C.A. Brochu, K. Kishi, J.W. Merck, Jr., M.W. Colbert, E. Saglamer, S. Warren. 1999. Alligator: Digital Atlas of the Skull. Society of Vertebrate Paleontology Memoir 6. CD-ROM.

Colbert, M.W., and R. M. Schoch. 1998. The Tapiroidea and other moropomorphs. In: Evolution of Tertiary Mammals of North America. C. Janis & L. Jacobs, eds. Cambridge University Press:. 569-582.

Janis, C.M., M.W. Colbert, M.C. Coombs, W.D. Lambert, B.J. MacFadden, B.J. Mader, D.R. Prothero, R.M. Schoch, J. Shoshani, and W.P. Wall. 1998. Perissodactyla and Proboscidea. In: Evolution of Tertiary Mammals of North America. C. Janis & L. Jacobs, eds. Cambridge University Press: 511-524.

Rowe, T., K. Kishi, J.W. Merck, Jr., and M. Colbert. 1998. The Age of Dinosaurs, 3rd ed. CD-ROM for MacIntosh and PC computers. W. H. Freeman & Co. New York, 179 megabytes.


Chin, K., Colbert, M.W., and Ekdale, A.A. 2011. The application of X-ray computed tomography to analyses of Upper Cretaceous coprolites from Nunavut, Canada: the inside scoop in 3-D. In Haggart, J.W., and Smith, P.L.. [eds.] Canadian Paleontology Conference Proceedings No. 9. Geological Association of Canada publications. P.18.

Colbert, M.. 2009. Ontogenetic Sequence Analysis (OSA) of tooth eruption and suture closure in Tapirus (Mammalia: Perissodactyla): Implications for assessing sequences in fossil samples. Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology, 29(3 Supplement), 81A.

Colbert, M., and Racicot, R. 2008. The cranial endocast of a new fossil porpoise (Odontoceti: Phocoenidae) from the Pliocene of San Diego, California. Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology, 28(3 Supplement), 65A.

Colbert, M.W. 2008. Evolution of the tapiroid skull as revealed by HRXCT. Southeastern Association of Vertebrate Paleontology Proceedings, 1: 17A.

Colbert, M.W., and R.A. Racicot. 2007. Morphology and variation of cranial endocasts in true porpoises (Cetacea: Phocoenidae) based on high-resolution X-ray CT scans. In: Abstracts of the 17th Biennial Conference on the Biology of Marine Mammals, Cape Town, South Africa.

Colbert, M., and J. Eberle. 2007. The skull of Thuliadanta, a surprisingly derived tapiroid from the Early Eocene (Wasatchian) of the Canadian high arctic, as revealed by high-resolution CT scanning. Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology 27(3 Supplement):60A.

Bajpai, S., J.G.M. Thewissen, R. Kay, M. Colbert, and V. Kapur. 2007. An overview of terrestrial mammals from Early Eocene Cambay Shale, Vastan lignite mine, Gujarat (Western India) with new taxa and age constraints. Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology 27(3 Supplement):42A.

Coleman, M.N, R.F. Kay, and M.W. Colbert. 2007. Evaluating hearing sensitivity in Homunculus patagonicus. American Journal of Physical Anthropology 132 (Supplement to Number 44):89A.

Colbert, M., E. Ekdale, and A. Ekdale. 2006. The vertebrate skull as habitat for invertebrate animals. Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology 26(3 Supplement):51A.

Kay, R., A. Lincoln, M. Colbert, E. Kirk 2006. Brain size, activity pattern, and visual acuity in Homunculus patagonicus, an Early Miocene stem platyrrhine: the mosaic evolution of brain size and visual acuity in Anthropoidea. Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology 26(3 Supplement):83A.

Perry, J., R. Kay, A. Lincoln, M. Colbert. 2006. Tooth root size and chewing muscle leverage in Homunculus, a Miocene primate from Patagonia. Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology 26(3 Supplement):110A.

Colbert, M.W. 2005. Taphonomy of the vertebrate skull as revealed by HRXCT. Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology 25(3 Supplement): 47A.

Colbert, M.W. 2004. Species determination in the fossil record: interpreting patterns of variation in Eocene tapiroids from southern California. Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology 24(3 Supplement): 47A.

Colbert, M.W. 2004. Using HRXCT to extract unique anatomical data; examples from Tertiary and Recent tapirs (Mammalia: Perissodactyla). 32nd International Geological Congress, Florence, Italy, Abstract 93-16: 445

Colbert, M.W. 2004. Ontogenetic sequence analysis: a parsimony-based method for characterizing developmental hierarchies. Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology. New Orleans, LA.

Fajardo, R.J., R. Müller, R.A. Ketcham, and M. Colbert. 2004. A 3D investigation of the mutual associations of trabecular architecture among anthropoid primates: do structural constraints on femoral neck trabecular architecture exist? Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology, 24(Supplement to No. 3): 56A.

Goodwin, M., M. Colbert, and T. Rowe. 2004. High-resolution computed tomography of the type Ornatotholus browni (Ornithischia: Pachycephalosauria) confirms its early ontogenetic stage and synonymy with Stegoceras validum. Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology, 24(3 Supplement): 65A

Racicot, R., M. Colbert, and T.Rowe. 2004. Interpreting neural and circulatory anatomy from a digital endocast of Tursiops truncatus (Mammalia, Odontoceti). Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology, 24(3 Supplement): 102A

Solounias, N, M.C. Mihlbachler, and M. Colbert. 2004. Meatal diverticulum and conchae of tapirs. Journal of Morphology, 260: 330.

Colbert, M.W. 2003. HRXCT analysis of the skull of Colodon (Perissodactyla: Tapiroidea). Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology, 23(3 Supplement): 41A.

Colbert, M.W. 2002. Sinus cavities in fossil and Recent tapirs: CT evidence for evolving cranial architecture. Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology 22(supplement to Number 3): 45A.

Gantt, D., J. Kappelman, R. Ketcham, and M. Colbert. 2002. 3d reconstruction of enamel volume in human and gorilla molars. American Journal of Physical Anthropology, 117(Supplement to Number 34): 74A.

Colbert, M.W. 2001. Digital visualization of cranial cavities: examples from fossil and recent mammals. Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology 21(supplement to Number 3): 41A.

Colbert, M.W. 2001. Ontogenetic sequence analysis: using parsimony to characterize developmental hierarchies. Journal of Morphology 248(3): 218.

Rowe, T., M. Colbert, R. Ketcham, J. Maisano, and P. Owen. 2001. High-resolution X-ray computed tomography in vertebrate morphology. Journal of Morphology 248(3): 277-278.

Runnegar, B., W.A. Dollase, R.A. Ketcham, M. Colbert, and W.D. Carlson. 2001. Early Archean sulfates from western Australia first formed as hydrothermal barites not gypsum evaporates. Geological Society of America, Abstracts with Programs, 33(6).

Solounias, N. and M.W. Colbert. 2001. Reconstruction of the narial cavity of Merychippus insignis and comparisons with the modern horse, Equus caballus. Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology 21(supplement to Number 3): 103A.

Colbert, M.W. 1991. A reassessment of tapiroid phylogeny: implications of a new species of Eocene "tapir" from San Diego County, California. Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology 11(Supplement to Number 3): 23A.


Colbert, M., and K. Abbott. 2011. Assessing age and maturity in tapirs based on dental eruption and suture closure. Fifth International Tapir Symposium, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

Colbert, M.W. 2008. The fossil record of Tapirus. Fourth International Tapir Symposium, Cancun, Mexico.

Colbert, M.W. 2008. A brief history of the tapirs. East Tennessee State University and General Shale Brick Natural History Museum.

Colbert, M.W. 2007. Edwin H. Colbert and the little dinosaurs of Ghost Ranch. Ghost Ranch Conference Center, New Mexico.

Colbert, M.W. 2006. Understanding and interpreting tapirs in the fossil record (Keynote Address). Third International Tapir Symposium, Buenos Aires, Argentina.

Colbert, M.W. 2004. Estimating the maturity of tapirs using dental and skeletal indicators (Keynote Address). Second International Tapir Symposium, Panama City, Panama.

Colbert, M.W. 2004. A brief history of the tapirs: evolutionary patterns and processes (Invited lecture). Austin Paleontological Society.

Colbert, M.W. 2002. High-resolution X-ray computed tomography of fossil and Recent tapirs (Mammalia: Perissodactyla): a deeper look at the evolution of a novel morphology. Texas Academy of Sciences Annual Meeting.

Colbert, M.W. 2001. A brief history of the tapirs (Keynote Address). First International Tapir Symposium, Panama City, Panama.

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