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"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)

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

Australopithecus africanus

Australopithecus africanus
(Courtesy of John Gurche)

This species lived about 2.5 million years ago and, like A. afarensis, is thought by some paleoanthropologists to be one of our direct ancestors. “I wanted to get an expression that captures something that both humans and great apes do, though the meaning is a little different,” Gurche says. “I wanted to build a smile, but a smile with a lot of tension in it. You might even call it a nervous smile, like the fear grin of the chimpanzee.”

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