Hominin paleoartistry
May 9, 2014 12:30 PM   Subscribe

Élisabeth Daynès and John Gurche (not connected in any way, AFAIK) are among a few paleoartists who specialize in sculpting models of ancient hominin species, such as Sahelanthropus tchadensis (Daynes), Australopithecus boisei (Gurche), Australopithecus africanus (Daynes), Homo floresiensis (Gurche), and charismatic favorite Homo neanderthalensis (Daynes, Gurche).

Until our ancient ancestors are cloned, seeing these sculptures may be the closest we get to meeting them.
posted by ChuckRamone (11 comments total) 15 users marked this as a favorite
 
I've seen the ones at the Smithsonian Natural History Museum. Quite affecting to see my ancestors like that, up close, with real personalities in the faces, at 1:1 scale.
posted by MrMoonPie at 1:40 PM on May 9, 2014


Those are beautiful.

The Floresiensis especially is striking, knowing that they were a separate species of human, probably interacting with us, not that many generations ago.
posted by edheil at 4:09 PM on May 9, 2014


Fascinating stuff, thanks for posting it!
posted by SpecialSpaghettiBowl at 5:36 PM on May 9, 2014


You know how humans have visible whites around their eyes? How confident can we be that these other primates had them?
posted by Joe in Australia at 3:27 AM on May 10, 2014


These are hominins so they're the same lineage or taxonomic group as humans, separate from the ancestors of chimps.
posted by ChuckRamone at 7:51 AM on May 10, 2014


A bit of Googlising turned up this: Cooperative eye hypothesis and this: Did evolution make our eyes stand out?

So we're the only currently-existing hominidae with white sclera. I suppose I'll grant that Neanderthals are close enough that their eyes were probably similar, but I can't see why we should assume that this trait evolved much earlier than that.
posted by Joe in Australia at 8:11 AM on May 10, 2014


From what I've read about how these models are made, they use the exact dimensions of the skulls. They can probably determine the appearance based on skull morphology. They do that with modern human skulls so I think they can pretty accurately model what these hominins looked like.
posted by ChuckRamone at 8:33 AM on May 10, 2014


The cooperative eye hypothesis is a favourite of mine:

Tomasello, M., Hare, B., Lehmann, H., & Call, J. (2007). Reliance on head versus eyes in the gaze following of great apes and human infants: the cooperative eye hypothesis. Journal of Human Evolution, 52(3), 314-320. [pdf]

AFAIK, it is not known whether Neanderthals had white sclera.
posted by stonepharisee at 9:49 AM on May 10, 2014




Looks like the white sclera are a discretionary decision.
posted by ChuckRamone at 7:20 AM on May 11, 2014


Thanks ChuckRamone. I've seen the discretion exercised there used as a weapon by creationists who accuse such reconstruction attempts of wishful thinking.
posted by stonepharisee at 9:37 AM on May 11, 2014


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