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Campus News : March 2013
U 6 CONNECT: UOW MARCH 2013 CONNECT: NEWS OW facial anthropologist Dr Susan Hayes has used archaeological and forensic facial approximation techniques to show how the mysterious Homo floresiensis (popularly known as the "Hobbit") might have once looked. Using evidence-based methods she has previously applied to forensic cases, Dr Hayes, a Research Fellow at UOW's Centre for Archaeological Science (CAS), crafted virtual muscle, fat and skin around a model of the Hobbit's skull to flesh out her face. Dr Hayes, w in collabor with CAS c Thomas S Mike Morw resolution CT scan da 18,000-ye create the The unveil the feature g Association Conference hosted by CAS in Wollongong last December. The conference attracted more than 400 delegates from Australia and overseas. "She's not what you'd call pretty, but she is definitely distinctive," Dr Hayes said. "She doesn't have a chin, and there isn't much of a forehead, so she's not what you'd call hyper-feminine." Dr Hayes described the facial approximation as an extraordinary challenge working on an archaic hominin. "She took me a bit longer than I'd anticipated and caused more than a few headaches along the way, but I'm pleased with both the methodological development and the final results," she said Homo floresiensis was discovered by Indonesian and Australian archaeologists, including UOW archaeological scientists, on the Indonesian island of Flores in 2003. The discovery of this previously unknown species of small hominin was hailed as one of the most significant recent discoveries in human evolution when it was announced in 2004. It is now a feature of a new permanent display in the Sciences Building at UOW (see separate story on opposite page). Dr Hayes has a background in forensic as well as archaeological science and in late 2011 worked at the request of Sydney Homicide on the remains of a young woman found in Belanglo State Forest in the NSW Southern Highlands. As a precursor to the AAA conference in December, Dr Hayes conducted fun and interactive 3D and 2D workshops in evidence- based facial approximation -- which involves creating the likely facial appearance of a deceased person based on known relations between the skull and its soft tissues. "In the media it's often called 'facial reconstruction', but because I'm evidence-based and work in archaeological science, we prefer the term 'facial approximation'," Dr Hayes said. NH FACE TO FACE WITH THE HOBBIT working ration colleagues utikna and wood, used high- 3D imaging and ata obtained from the ar-old Hobbit skull to image. ing of the face was one of es of the Australian Archaeological Facial anthropologist Dr Susan Hayes has applied forensic and archaeological science to the skull of Homo floresiensis to approximate how the small hominin may have looked around 18,000+ years ago. Facial anthropologist Dr Susan Hayes.