Apr 23, 2017 06:07 PM EDT
One woman lived just 13,640 years ago. She inhabited a region that is today called Thailand. It may sound not too exciting, but a global team of researchers used an interesting, novel facial approximation method that could reconstruct her face.
The experiment was published in the journal Antiquity. The research team explained in an article what was left of her remains, where they were found and the techniques that were used to detect details about whatever remained and how her face was reconstructed.
It was in 2002 that archaeologists found human skeletal remains in the Tham Lod rock shelter of northern Thailand. They discovered some skull parts, teeth, and bones. Further exploration revealed that the body parts appeared to be female. Other studies showed that she had been probably part of the first group of people to move into Southeast Asia about 13,600 years ago in the Late Pleistocene period. The woman was thought to be between 25 and 35 years old. Her height was calculated to have been only five feet. In their new study, researchers have reconstructed an image of her face, according to Phys.org.
Beginning with the skull, the scientists then looked into a global database with statistical data that showed the average physical traits of people everywhere in the universe. They examined the measurements of the skull, skin tone, muscle and soft facial tissue under the skin. They filtered and then used data from 720 contemporary women from 25 countries, according to Mail Online. The team took stock of whatever they had found and then reconstructed her imaged representation, though not a real portrait. They were careful to see that European populations did not get over-represented.
Moreover, the team also paid attention to avoiding the use of forensic facial reconstruction techniques, which they consider scientifically "invalid". The team ensured that the woman was "anatomically modern", especially the face, making them use statistical data from modern female faces. The team tried to depict the expressions of female faces from the past that showed wild expressions or appearances.
It is difficult to create faces from the past, especially those who are non-Europeans, as the reference populations tend to look like average facial variations of recent Europeans. Hence, scientists used a facial approximation of a young woman from the Late Pleistocene rock shelter of Tham Lod in north-western Thailand. When scientists checked it against average facial variations from recent populations, they found that the Tham Lod facial approximation was not "recent" in facial morphology, nor was it more European. The Tham Lod person was probably from a population that was ancestral to existing Australo-Melanesians.
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