Scientists Recreate What the First Humans Probably Looked Like

Scientists have reconstructed the face and body of a Neanderthal man who was alive around 150,000 years ago, giving a glimpse into what our ancient ancestors actually looked like.

Altamura man

Researchers had a pretty good jumping off point, using DNA extracted from a well-preserved skeleton known as Altamura Man. They used laser scanning, DNA data, and photography to measure out an image of what Altamura Man looked like in his prime. Dutch paleo-artists then reconstructed the final, hyper-realistic life-sized model.

"To me he looks beautiful," David Caramelli, associate professor of anthropology at the University of Florence, told Discovery News this week.

Altamura man

Altamura Man's reconstruction, which features a stocky physique, an elongated head, and a large nose, provides what researchers estimate is a unique species of human — somewhere in a phase of Neanderthal existence between the late-Middle to early-Late Pleistocene, Discovery News reports.

"It shows archaic traits, making the Altamura Man a sort of morphological bridge between the previous human species such as Homo hedelbergensis and the Neanderthals," Giorgio Manzi of Rome's Sapienza University, who helped extract DNA from the skeleton, told Discovery.

Altamura Man was discovered in a deep recess of a cave in Southern Italy in 1993. Experts believe he fell down a well and died from starvation or severe dehydration. They found him in a cave full of limestone stalagmites, droplets from which likely played a role in preserving him in a calcified bed for thousands upon thousands of years.

[h/t Discovery News]