Researchers reveal a spectacular facial reconstruction of a Paleolithic teenager

— © Cicero Moraes / Jiri Sindelar / Karel Drbal

Using advanced 3D modeling software and imaging techniques, scientists were able to digitally reconstruct the face of a Paleolithic teenage girl.

A new analysis of the Mladeč skull

In 1881, archaeologists discovered a human skull at the bottom of the Mladeč cave in what is now the Czech Republic. Using limited forensic techniques, at the time they estimated its age at 31,000 years and concluded that it belonged to a male. They were right about dating, but not about sex.

Nearly a century and a half later, a team of scientists has re-examined the skull, revealing previously unknown details. These new analyzes notably showed that the skull actually belonged to a 17-year-old woman who lived between 43,000 and 26,000 years ago, while the use of advanced 3D tools offered a detailed reconstruction of her face.

The researchers, including Cicero Moraes, a Brazilian graphic design expert, gathered all the studies and data they could find on Mladeč 1, including the original measurements of the skull, as well as detailed descriptions of the initial excavations. A computed tomography (imaging technique) was also performed.

paleolithic teenager
— © Cicero Moraes / Jiri Sindelar / Karel Drbal

Recreates the face of a Paleolithic teenager

The absence of a lower jaw forced the team to rely on a total of 200 CT scans of modern humans and skulls unearthed during various excavation campaigns, and to use statistical methods to establish the shape of this bone structure that best fits the Mladeč skull. . . Moraes then applied different markers to the digital model of the skull, in order to determine the thickness of the soft tissues (tendons, muscles, and skin).

Since the data available to the team proved insufficient to accurately establish the shape and size of the nose, as well as that of the mouth, the researchers imported CT scans of living subjects and digitally warped their bones and soft tissues to match face. Play. ” In the case of the fossilized skull from Mladeč 1, we distorted two CT scans, one of a male and one of a female, and the two converged to a very similar result. », Moraes Details.

While the original excavations unearthed stone objects, bone spines, and several teeth, we know next to nothing about this young woman, which makes this detailed 3D reconstruction all the more remarkable.

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