News FocusPaleoanthropology

Bringing Hominins Back to Life

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Science  10 Jul 2009:
Vol. 325, Issue 5937, pp. 136-139
DOI: 10.1126/science.325_136

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As the number of hominin fossil discoveries has exploded in recent years, researchers and paleoartists alike have been working overtime to refine their visions of what our ancestors looked like. In the past, because of gaps in the fossil record, paleoartists tended to represent early humans as half-chimp and half-human. But recent finds, including candidate hominins dated to 5 million to 7 million years ago, have spurred demand by museum directors and magazine editors for increasingly lifelike, three-dimensional hominin recreations. The interplay between art and science makes reconstruction a two-way street. Some researchers argue that reconstructions influence how scientists view ancient hominins and interpret their behavior. Yet the comfort level about reconstructions varies among scientists.

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