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)

Homo floresiensis

Homo floresiensis
(Courtesy of John Gurche)

A mere 18,000 years old, Homo floresiensis was tiny – only about three-and-half feet tall, with huge feet, which has led to its nickname: the Hobbit. It had a “teeny brain,” Gurche says. H. floresiensis remains something of a mystery. Some researchers originally thought the hominid, found on the island of Flores in Indonesia, was a dwarfed H. erectus. Others now think it is a different species that left Africa before H. erectus. “All I can say is, stay tuned, folks,” Gurche says.

H. floresiensis overlapped in time with Homo sapiens, and the two species may have met. “What I wanted to get into the face was a sort of wariness,” as though the primitive little hominid is really encountering a human. “What would we have seemed like to them?”

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