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Faces From Fossils


© AMNH / Rod Mickens

Homo ergaster skull

What did our ancestors look like? Can we ever know? Drawing on modern skulls and faces, facial-reconstruction experts sculpt highly detailed models of long-dead hominids using fossil skulls as frameworks.

Even the smallest variations in bone shape or texture can suggest particular facial features. By paying attention to tiny details, these experts truly bring the dead to life.

Rebuilding Sima 5

Scientists here at the American Museum of Natural History reconstruct ancient hominids to provide a glimpse of our ancestors. Here, four stages in the reconstruction of Sima 5, from a site called the "Pit of the Bones" in the Sierra de Atapuerca in northern Spain, highlight the intricate steps of the process.


© AMNH / Rod Mickens

Homo ergaster skull

Stage 1

A composite cast of the restored fossil skull

Stage 2

The restored skull with assorted deep and superficial muscles laid on top

Stage 3

A full skin reconstruction lacking only hair and other details

Stage 4

The completed reconstruction

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