Apr
16
2009

Devolution: or great-great-great-great-great-grandpa was a real Neanderthal

Homo sapiens: Yours truly, just a little while ago. (Had I shaved I'd look even more modern).
Homo sapiens: Yours truly, just a little while ago. (Had I shaved I'd look even more modern).Courtesy Mark Ryan
Ever notice how some of your relatives have similar features just like those of some of your long dead ancestors? Perhaps you yourself are stuck with the same ears great-uncle Larry proudly displays in that sepia photo you have of him grinning in front of his brand new Model T. Great-grandpa Homo heidelbergensis: 500,000 years ago.
Great-grandpa Homo heidelbergensis: 500,000 years ago.Courtesy Open University (and Mark Ryan)
You know, those Dumbo ears that look like a donation from the US Air Force.

Great-great-granddaddy Homo erectus: 1.8 million years ago.
Great-great-granddaddy Homo erectus: 1.8 million years ago.Courtesy Open University (and Mark Ryan)
But what about those family members who were evolving long before the advent of photography or even cave painting? Have you ever wondered what some of those ancient knuckle-draggers on the old family tree might have looked like?

Great-great-great-grandfather Homo habilis: 2.2 million years ago.
Great-great-great-grandfather Homo habilis: 2.2 million years ago.Courtesy Open University (and Mark Ryan)
Well, of course none of us (except the Terminator, Mr. Peabody, Marty McFly and JGordon) can actually travel back in time but we can do the next best thing, which is devolving via the miracle of modern technology. Great-great-great-etc.etc-grandpa Australopithecus afarensis: 3.7 million years ago.
Great-great-great-etc.etc-grandpa Australopithecus afarensis: 3.7 million years ago.Courtesy Open University (and Mark Ryan)
How can we do that, you ask? It’s easy. Simply go here to Open University's Devolve Me site, upload a photo of yourself (or great-uncle Larry if you wish) and watch the image change into great-great-great-great-great-great-great-uncle Troglodyte,

For the sake of scientific inquiry I tried it myself and you can see the results on the right. Also, I tried to minimize the use of title prefixes in the photos (e.g. Great-great-great grandpa) since the actual titles would have gone on forever, and would have become really, really tiresome. I'm sure you get the picture.

Anyway, give it a try yourself. You just don't know what you'll find out about your ancestry. It may even answer those questions you have about your grandma's excessive back hair.

Hey, I think I have great-grandpa Australopithecus afarensis's eyes.

LINKS
Devolve Me site
More about human evolution
Open University site

Your Comments, Thoughts, Questions, Ideas

iowaboy's picture
iowaboy says:

love the pictures in this one!

posted on Fri, 04/17/2009 - 4:04pm

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