July 30, 2010

Guess their origin (answer: Irish)

Here are readers' guesses:

See page 45 for explanation.


Marnie said...

voted Ireland.

Looks Celtic, in a population with brown hair, mixed blue/brown eyes and fair skin.

Der Frost said...

They look Balkanic or from the proximity. Since Romania is closest, I voted for it.

Onur Dincer said...


AdygheChabadi said...

I voted Austrian...They look like people from that general area to me...With the brown hair and the like. I remember watching a Rick Steves' program and he was in Austria...those people look like that to me...

Anonymous said...

I really don't think they look like they are from eastern Europe. People need to look closer.

Unknown said...

It is a trick question. It is a composite picture of dozens of faces from all over Europe.

Anonymous said...

The guy looks a bit more central European. I'd say Swiss or Austrian.

But the girl is straight out of Holland. She even looks a bit like Carice van Houten, at least IMO.

AdygheChabadi said...

I was thinking about saying European...but I did not want Dienekes to think I was being a prick...lol I sort of thought it was a composite of all the countries listed...But then I said Austrian because that is what they look like to me, but I can be and have been wrong...lol

princenuadha said...


Its very interesting how people voted for Ireland much more than they voted for Scotland. They also voted for Spain much more than Portugal.

People must like voting for more "popular" countries. Ireland, LOL.

Natural Athlete said...

I am guessing irish, scottish seems fairly likely too. The faces are not dark enough to be southern european except italy, and two dark for scandinavia, the face is to long and zygomatics to wide for eastern europe. The wide gonials, thin lips and high wide foreheads indicate irish to me. I would expect lighter eyes from a irish composite but its my best guess.

eurologist said...

The faces/eyes/hair are too dark for Austrian averages, but there are regions close by that harbor darker people yet with relatively little Slavic component: Hungary and Romania. There also seems to be a little resemblance to Portugal (of the listed countries) as well, but both faces are too central European looking for that (also towards German, considering the bone structure - which is partially similar to Hungarian).

So, I vote Romanian - although Romania is quite diverse, and some people look nothing like these. That's the problem with averaged faces: they don't give you a feel for the variation and outliers.

AdygheChabadi said...

Wow, Irish...never saw that one coming.

Wow, so that is what a composite of Irish people look like...hmmmm. Nice one, Dienekes.

Such dark looks...Is that because of the Irish possibly having some Basque heritage?

Anonymous said...

The woman was undoubtedly northern, while the man was difficult to identify.
This show as to form an ethnic image is used extreme characteristics and not the averages.

princenuadha said...

Irish... that does seem really odd. her face seems too wide and his skin too dark. neither have any pinkish to them. oh well

Onur Dincer said...

I knew that the composites were from North Europe rather than South (both because of facial features and complexion). BTW, the man and the woman look so similar to each other (at least they look like each other more than I and my brothers look like each other :D) that they could be siblings if they really existed.

Marnie said...

Some comments:

The supraorbital foramen is often lower than the average European face in the Scots and Irish. This is slightly detectable in these averages.

The distance from the bottom of the nose to the top of the lips is slightly longer than the average European face.

The Scots and Irish often have narrower spacing between the eyes. You can pick that up slightly in the male picture here.

British noses often have a slight narrowing between the bridge and the tip which is subtly captured in the male picture.

Natural Athlete said: "The wide gonials, thin lips and high wide foreheads indicate irish to me." Agree.

The freckles are missing. It would be common for the woman to have a dusting of freckles across her nose.

The male image looks very much like a young picture of my father. Being of Scots/English ancestry, with most of the Scottish half originating in Fife, he had dark brown hair and grey Scottish eyes, with a hazel ring on the inner rim, next to the pupil. Apparently, that's a Scots/Scots Irish characteristic. I tried picking up the ring in these pictures but wasn't sure if I could see it.

The Welsh also look like this, with the same dark hair and fair skin, but with few instances of blue or grey eyes, unlike the Irish and Scots. Catherine Zeta-Jones, the actress, looks a bit like the female averaged image.

Gregory Peck, Rock Hudson, Pierce Brosnan and Alec Baldwin, all with either Scottish or Irish ancestry, are Hollywood versions of the averaged Irish male image.

Unknown said...

I'm Romanian and I would have also thought that those two people are Romanians. There are so many Romanians who look like them.

princenuadha said...

I think some of marnia's comments are relative in this case but to me this still seems like these composites are not very close to the averaged Irish face.

which people formed the composites

Fanty said...

Irish? Interesting.

I am somehow fooled by a "red hair" stereotype of Irish people. Hehe.

I forgot if I picked Italy or Spain, because I thought, specially the male looks "Southern" to me.

The female is undefinable to me. She looks European through. LOL

Andrew Oh-Willeke said...

One thought about averaging.

I wonder if some populations have more variation from the average than others, and if a composite is confusing in a population with high variation because few people are at the mean.

Onur Dincer said...

Irish? Interesting.

I am somehow fooled by a "red hair" stereotype of Irish people. Hehe.

I forgot if I picked Italy or Spain, because I thought, specially the male looks "Southern" to me.

The female is undefinable to me. She looks European through. LOL

If the pictures belonged to real individuals, they could easily be South European (northern parts of the Balkans somewhat resemble Central Europe in looks BTW), Turk, Caucasian, Jew or even northern Arab or Iranian. But as they are composites thus averages, that is a low probability IMO.

AG said...

I voted Scottish. Well, I am only slightly wrong. ;p

Onur Dincer said...

BTW, the complexion difference between the male and female composites is easily explained by the scientifically established fact that males are darker than females on average in humans.

pconroy said...

I didn't want to reveal my preference before now, as I'm from Ireland and I voted Irish - to bias the results. The only other country I would have suggested was Scotland - though the hair is spikier there and lighter on average.

Some of the give aways are as Marnie stated, but the male eyes and thick eyebrows, along with both having short mouths and thin lips, and strong chins are all classically Irish.

Marnie said...


Have a look at the wiki page for red hair. Although about 40% of the Scots and Irish carry the recessive trait for red hair, it is expressed only about 10% of the time. It is very common to have both red and brown hair run together in the same families. Brown haired carriers tend to freckle easily. Their hair is often a deep brown with a red undertone.

Sean Keane, the fiddle player of the Chieftains, has a very classic Irish or Scottish red haired look.


There's a nice BBC series "The History of Scotland," hosted by the archaeologist Neil Oliver, that sheds some light on the genetic picture of Scotland. Someone has been nice enough to upload the entire thing onto Youtube. In my experience, the Scottish descendants of the Vikings are more often blond haired and have different features than other Scots.

Marnie said...


I was wondering where you where!

"The only other country I would have suggested was Scotland - though the hair is spikier there and lighter on average."

"male eyes and thick eyebrows, along with both having short mouths and thin lips"

Yeah, must be the thick haired version of the trichohyalin gene.

I'd agree lighter on average, but if you where to look carefully, using surnames and regional differences, you'd come up with something approximating dark/red haired Scots and blond/light brown haired Nordic looking Scots.

I'll leave it at that. For anyone interested, the "History of Scotland" BBC special I mentioned goes a long way toward sorting out the different regions of Scotland.

Natural Athlete said...

I am very surprised that so few people saw these faces as irish or scottish and more surprised that the most common answer was Romanian. Compare this previous post with composite male Romanian face. Here

The impression of face that is relatively both long and wide, with prominent forehead and long straight nose, low cheek bones, and long straight nose and relatively thin lips seems to be typical across the atlantic area.

OfDienekes said...

Irish at first glance then unsure.I'm happy now. I'm tend to think that Irish men have youthful/boy like proportions?features, so when I saw the photos I automatically thought Irish.I maybe its the forehead eye ratios. I don't know if they're Irish but they remind me of it.
Justin Chatwin
Scott Weiland
Sean Patrick Flanery
Norman Reedus

Unknown said...

The male composite reminded me of John Cusack, who, as I have read afterwards, is fittingly an "Irish American" - albeit, as an American, undoubtedly mixed.

StoneLord said...

I think if they eyes had looked light I'd have probably guessed right away, but the dark looking eyes threw me (although my own Irish family are dark haired,some even black haired, with brown or hazel eyes...including myself.) I was thinking northern Spain for the man and really just anywhere in northwestern Europe for the woman. Now I can see it of course; the 'Atlantic' look, the 'Irish' chin!