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How to reconstruct the face of an extinct human ancestor

Computer modeler brings Paranthropus boisei to life

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11:00am, March 24, 2015
Parathrapus boisei

3-D designer Cícero Moraes reconstructed the visage  of a distant human relative named Parathrapus boisei.

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Cícero Moraes is adding new portraits to the human family album. The 3-D designer based in Sinop, Brazil, has digitally reconstructed the faces of over 15 extinct hominid species, including Paranthropus boisei, a distant cousin to modern humans. The faces are on display at the University of Padua in Italy (see "The expressive face of human history on display.")

The odd anatomy of P. boisei, which lived in East Africa some 2.3 million to 1.2 million years ago, has long perplexed scientists. Anthropologists once thought the hominid used its colossal molars and heavy jaw to crack open nuts. Yet recent chemical analyses indicate it grazed on grass (SN: 6/4/11, p. 8).

Moraes began his reconstruction with some photos of a

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