Forensic artist re-constructs face of first European

May 4th, 2009 - 2:45 pm ICT by ANI  

London, May 4 (ANI): A forensic artist has reconstructed the face of the first anatomically-modern human to live in Europe, who inhabited the ancient forests of the Carpathian Mountains in what is now Romania about 35,000 years ago.

According to a report in The Independent, the reconstruction by forensic artist Richard Neave, of a face that could be male or female, is based on the partial skull and jawbone found in a cave where bears were known to hibernate.

The facial features indicate the close affinity of these early Europeans to their immediate African ancestors, although it was still not possible to determine the person’s sex.

Neave based his assessment on a careful measurement of the bone fragments and his long experience of how the soft tissues of the face are built around the bones of the skull.

The reconstruction was made for the forthcoming BBC 2 series “The Incredible Human Journey”, which documents human origins and evolution, from our birthplace in Africa to the long migratory routes that led us to populate the most distant parts of the globe.

It is impossible from the bones to determine the skin colour of the individual, although scientists speculate it was probably darker than modern-day Europeans, reflecting a more recent African origin.

Neave’s clay head of the “first modern European” now sits on the desk of Alice Roberts, the Bristol University anthropologist who will introduce the BBC series.

“It’s really quite bizarre. I’m a scientist and objective, but I look at that face and think ‘Gosh, I’m actually looking at the face of somebody from 40,000 years ago’, and there’s something weirdly moving about that,” said Dr Roberts.

“Richard creates skulls of much more recent humans and he’s used to looking at differences between populations. He said the skull doesn’t actually look European, or Asian, or African. It looks like a mixture of all of them. And you think, well, that’s probably what you’d expect of someone who was among the earliest populations to come to Europe.” she added.

According to Erik Trinkaus, professor of anthropology at Washington University in Missouri, and one of the first specialists to study the bones in detail, the jaw was the oldest, directly-dated modern human fossil.

“Taken together, the material is the first that securely documents what modern humans looked like when they spread into Europe,” he said. (ANI)

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