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Evaluation and facial approximation of Zaza Ink’s medical specimen skeleton

For this project, our team evaluated a tattoo shop’s privately collected medical specimen skeleton for age, sex and ancestry estimates, and then began to create a facial approximation of the individual.

See the time lapse video on Zaza Ink’s facebook page!

Click the images below to see them full-size

Dr. Amy Michael used reference materials and images of known Asian, Black, and White individuals to do a comparison. She looked at the midfacial anatomy, specifically the structure of the nasal aperture (nose) and eye orbits, where a lot of the differences in ancestry are found. Using knowledge of what typical Asians look like, she was able to categorize the unknown individual. Human variation exists on a wide spectrum but there are patterns that can be used to classify unknown remains. Dr. Michael determined that the specimen was most likely a male of South Asian/Indian descent. Most patrons of the shop have thought that the individual was female due to their small stature and other ambiguous features. Dr. Michael indicated that the individual was a probable male particularly due to the shape of the pelvis. Age was estimated as young to middle aged adult due to the appearance of the cranial sutures. A closer inspection of the teeth (especially an x-ray!) would potentially allow for a more refined age estimation. Based on Dr. Michael’s findings, a facial approximation was then done by Anthony Redgrave. The method used was photo composite followed by digital painting, using both Adobe Photoshop and Autodesk Sketchbook.

Animated dissolve from skull to approximation

To use the slider on the image below, grab the handle at the right side of the photo and drag it to compare the skeleton to the completed approximation

Thank you to Zaza Ink for inviting us!  We look forward to working with you again in the future.