A Closer Look at Evolutionary Faces

John Gurche, a “paleo-artist,” has recreated strikingly realistic heads of our earliest human ancestors for a new exhibit

"Paleo-artist" John Gurche recreates the faces of our earliest ancestors, some of who have been extinct for millions of years. (Courtesy of John Gurche)


(Courtesy of John Gurche)

“This is a complex being,” Gurche says of Neanderthal, Homo neanderthalensis, who disappeared some 30,000 years ago after a nearly 200,000-year run. “Some people argue that Neanderthals were as sophisticated as we are.” They buried their dead and likely used pigments to decorate their bodies and clothes. This particular Neanderthal, Gurche points out, is the only hominid in the museum series that appears to have styled its hair.

“A lot of the features of the Neanderthal face were related to cold adaptation,” Gurche says. “They have really large noses, and some people have argued that this is to warm and humidify cold, dry air as it comes in.”


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