September 18, 2008

Reconstruction of female Neanderthal

This is a very early prototype of things that may be possible in the future. The DNA-based evidence was limited to pigmentation, as far as I can tell. Unfortunately, as with other complex traits, there has been a limited crop of useful genes identified for observable human traits.

No need for such DNA evidence is -of course- needed to reconstruct skeletal structure, since the skeletal structure is pretty much the only part of a person's appearance that survives along Paleolithic time scales.

However, there is wide room for progress in inferring both pigmentation (there have been successes here, but the problem is by no means completely solved), as well as non-surviving traits such as muscular development, hair texture, etc.

Apparently, there is also a National Geographic documentary to accompany this.

Off topic: doesn't she resemble somewhat Vincent from Beauty and the Beast?

PHOTO IN THE NEWS: DNA-Based Neanderthal Face Unveiled:
September 17, 2008—Meet Wilma—named for the redheaded Flintstones character—the first model of a Neanderthal based in part on ancient DNA evidence.

Artists and scientists created Wilma (shown in a photo released yesterday) using analysis of DNA from 43,000-year-old bones that had been cannibalized. Announced in October 2007, the findings had suggested that at least some Neanderthals would have had red hair, pale skin, and possibly freckles.


Crimson Guard said...

Wouldve been nice if they provided a profile as well. Almost looks like she's from central Asia there or something. None of the reconstructions of Neanderthals ever really resemble one another oddly enough. I think politics should stay clear outve it. Some look to Homo-Sapien Sapien.

I mean this one appears like Ron Weasley from Harry Potter:

Crimson Guard said...

Ok I checked the NatGeo article, they had more pics up and profile shots ect. Still the recon resembles an Eskimo or Norwegian Lapp plate in many ways:

Tungus Lady:

Norwegian Lapp boy:

Kosmo said...

I have for a long time been a huge critic of Neanderthal reconstructions (and even wrote a story about it), but this one seems to be, to me, the best ever. No swarthy complexion, no dark hair and eyes. Even the shape of the eyes rings true, in that they seem to have an extra fold of skin like many extant cold-adapted populations. (In Asians the fold spreads from the nose side of the eye outward, and in NW Europeans, the fold spreads from the outside of the eye inward--both producing hooded eyes with very different appearances)

I also like the facial padding evident in the reconstruction, which is another cold-adapted feature that I find likely.

Kosmo said...

Oh, and for an example of the hooded NW European eye shape I'm talking about (Really, a Nordic eye shape) I present this illustration from my site:

and another one here:

This form of hooded eyes seems to be most common around the Baltic Sea and appears etiologically distinct from the Asian epicathus. It also seems to be the polar opposite of a Mediteranian eye shape where a significant portion of the eyelid is commonly visible over the curve of the eyeball even when the eye is open. My own eye shape is at the extreme end of the Nordic spectrum to the point where my eyelid is not even visible when my eyes are closed. The hood of my eyes actually extends down to my eyelashes.

It produces, essentially, a double eyelid.

Crimson Guard said...

Only a small percentage(1-5%) of Neanderthals carried the red hair mutation which is caused from several generations of dark hair. The remains the markers were discovered on were from Spain and Italy.

Neanderthals were mostly dark and it seems they also varied somewhat from region as well:

Judith Weingarten said...

The First Uppity Woman at Zenobia: Empress of the East