Early Neanderthal and Homo sapiens men lurk ahead of Natural History Museum 2014 show

By Culture24 Reporter | 21 November 2013

Eerie, lifelike models of a Neanderthal and a Homo sapiens gent have been delivered to the Natural History Museum ahead of next year's major Britain: One Million Years of the Human Story exhibition

A photo of a model of a neanderthal man
A Neanderthal lurks at the Natural History Museum in London© Natural History Museum
Two looming, lifelike figures of a young Neanderthal and a middle-aged Homo sapiens, bearing tattoos, wizened features and “disturbing similarities” to modern men, have been sent into hiding by the Natural History Museum after they were delivered by a pair of twin science artists.

Working in a studio in Arnhem, the Kennis brothers modelled their 20-something Neanderthal on a skeleton found in a cave in Belgium, building up his muscles and tendons in clay. He is short and stocky, with lighter skin than the Homo sapiens, who is in his 50s and has been rebuilt based on evidence from recent and ancient DNA samples.

The casts of both bodies have been filled with coloured, flecked silicon, informed by the expertise of Professor Chris Stringer, the palaeontologist whose Ancient Human Occupation of Britain project is the inspiration for next year’s major exhibition at the museum, Britain: One Million Years of the Human Story.

Stringer has teamed up with partners including Oxford and Cambridge Universities, the British Museum and Queen Mary University during the 13-year multidisciplinary challenge, providing replica bones and advice on the precise skin pigmentation, markings and hair styles of these throwback men.

Ancient interbreeding means that the DNA of Neanderthals – known as skilled toolmakers, hunters and great survivors between 400,000 and 500,000 years ago – still exists in the DNA of most people today, although modern humans first entered Britain from Africa around 40,000 years ago.

Those Homo sapiens were the first human species to creatively sculpt objects and interpret the world around them.

  • See the models re-emerge in Britain: One Million Years of the Human Story, at the Natural History Museum from February 13 2014.

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A photo of a neanderthal man
A close-up Homo sapiens© Natural History Museum
A photo of a neanderthal man
The Kennis brothers specialise in scientifically accurate sculptures of ancient humans and animals© Natural History Museum
A photo of a neanderthal man
Both Neanderthals and modern humans probably used pigment to mark their skin© Natural History Museum
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