Building Faces From Fossils

  • By Melissa Salpietra
  • Posted 10.26.09
  • NOVA

Paleoartist Viktor Deak blends science with artistry as he meticulously reconstructs the faces of early hominids. In this audio slide show, watch as he takes a cast of the skull of the famous Turkana Boy from fossil to fully realized portrait.

Launch Interactive

Paleoartist Viktor Deak works from casts of fossil skulls to put faces to Turkana Boy and other ancient hominids.

Editor's note: Many anthropologists today use the label Homo ergaster to distinguish Homo erectus within Africa from H. erectus outside of Africa. In this feature, as in NOVA's "Becoming Human," Turkana Boy is considered Homo erectus for simplicity's sake.



(wall of skulls, skulls on shelf, Deak with skull, H. Neanderthal and P. boisei heads in studio, blue-suited actors, Deak in studio)
© WGBH Educational Foundation
(all Turkana Boy reconstruction stages, H. Neanderthal reconstruction, A. afarensis reconstruction, Homo heidelbergensis skull with muscle markings, chimpanzee anatomy, gorilla temporalis muscle, digital Turkana Boy body, digital reconstruction of H. neanderthalensis, digital reconstruction of A. afarensis, digital reconstruction of Turkana Boy)
© Viktor Deak
(portrait of Viktor Deak)
© Erik Olsen/The New York Times/Redux
(human nose)
© emre ogan photography/
(gorilla nose)
© Inkling Arts/
(human muscle anatomy)
(H. floresiensis display)
© Denis Finnin/AMNH; from the Anne and Bernard Spitzer Hall of Human Origins at the American Museum of Natural History

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