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<< Neanderthals and modern humans | CAP - Tutorial | Beyond Paleoanthropology >>

Reconstructing the face of the Gibraltar 2 (Devil's Tower) Neanderthal child

The Gibraltar 2 Neanderthal child specimen is represented by 5 cranial fragments recovered by Dorothy Garrod at the Devil’s Tower site in Gibraltar (Garrod et al., 1928). Methods of computer-asissted paleoanthropology (CAP) were used to reconstruct and complete the fragmentary remains and to produce a quantitative estimate of the soft tissue dimensions.

  • Non-invasive 3-dimensional volume data acquisition of the fossil remains was performed with medical Computer Tomography (CT).
  • Using the special-purpose software toolkit FoRM-IT, the fossil fragments were transformed into virtual 3D objects on a computer screen. The isolated parts were positioned in anatomical space according to biological criteria, and missing regions were completed with mirror-imaged counterparts of preserved fragments.
  • The virtual reconstruction was transformed into a physical model using laser stereolithography.

Virtual and stereolithographic reconstructions of the Devil's Tower Neanderthal child
  • Soft tissue structures were extrapolated with 3D Thin Plate Splining (TPS) techniques (Bookstein, 1991) from combined skeletal/soft tissue data from a modern child of comparable dental age.

Soft tissue morphing from a modern child (age 4y) to the Devil's Tower Neanderthal child
  • The facial soft tissue layers, ears and other facial traits were reconstructed with a plasticine paste that was applied directly onto the stereolithographic replica, according to the results produced with the TPS morphing procedure.

Modelling the soft tissue
  • The final model was cast in silicon and carefully painted, giving a vivid impression of the natural texture of human skin. The face obtained its final touch through one-by-one implantation of human hair.

The Devil's Tower Neanderthal child (model reconstruction: E. Daynès, Paris)

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