Posted in biology, design and architecture, medical imaging

Building art from the bones up

From the Smithsonian, John Gurche, a “paleo-artist,” has recreated strikingly realistic heads of our earliest human ancestors for a new exhibit.

Copyright John Gurche

Australopithecus afarensis

To recreate the faces of our early ancestors, some of whom have been extinct for millions of years, sculptor John Gurche dissected the heads of modern humans and apes, mapping patterns of soft tissue and bone. He used this information to fill out the features of the fossils. Each sculpture starts with the cast of a fossilized skull; Gurche then adds layers of clay muscle, fat and skin. Seven of his finished hominid busts will be featured at the National Museum of Natural History’s David H. Koch Hall of Human Origins, which opens March 17. They are perhaps the best-researched renderings of their kind.

Read the full story, and see all the different faces.



Beth Kelley is an applied & digital anthropologist with an overall interest in how people engage with and are impacted by their environments and vice versa. This has manifested itself in many ways, by looking at creativity, playful spaces, built environments, and environmental enrichment, sustainability, design research, and integrative and collaborative models of learning such as through play and hands-on learning.

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