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Skip to 0 minutes and 9 seconds I’ll probably start off with the eye sockets. So the European one tends to have quite round, but then with kind of circular edges at the margins.

Skip to 0 minutes and 25 seconds They are also called as like aviator sunglasses shape. Whereas Asians, they tend to have really kind of circular eye sockets, and the African tends to have really kind of rectangular eye socket shape. Comparing the circularness of that to this skull here, that’s very obviously square, especially in comparison. Absolutely. What if we tried to compare this one to this one? Because that one’s quite rectangular as well, but then - But it does have the smoothened-out edges. That one looks more rectangular than this one, so highly likely that that’s going to be African. And this one that’s kind of in-between shape, of being both circular and rectangular. This one could be European male. Sure.

Skip to 1 minute and 25 seconds I guess to reinforce this hypothesis, we need to look at the other features. I’d say that the most sort of prominent one that would be next that I’ve been looking at could be the nasal bridge and the nasal aperture. So on a European skull, so we said this one could be European, you’d expect to see quite a pronounced nasal bridge. And that’s exactly what we’ve got. Very pronounced. Yeah, compared to the other two. Compared to the other two especially. I mean, if you look this one, if this was the one we looked at and suggested it might be African, this is very flat, and that’s exactly what you’d expect. And the Asian skull is somewhat in between.

Skip to 2 minutes and 4 seconds It’s neither flat nor very pronounced, so it’s somewhat less pronounced but it’s still pronounced nonetheless.

Skip to 2 minutes and 14 seconds OK, next then, after the bridge, I would probably suggest looking at the apertures. And these look quite noticeable and prominent. Starting over here, which is the one we suggested might be African, it absolutely fits the bill, because it’s got a very wide nasal aperture, which you’d expect from an African skull. Very stereotypical. In the middle, this one is somewhat heart-shaped, which I would say is, again, supporting the hypothesis that this might be Asian. Asian skulls generally have a heart-shaped nasal aperture. And then this one, which we thought might be European, it’s got a very narrow and high nasal aperture right at the top here. Yeah, sure. So that would fit the bill quite nicely.

Skip to 3 minutes and 4 seconds I think, moving on from there, what’s also quite different between the skulls are the jaws and the teeth. So for example, if you look at what we think is the European skull, I would expect it to have quite small teeth which are set quite closely together. And you can see there’s not really any gaps at all. Well, if you compare that to what we think the African skull could potentially be, you can immediately see straightaway. You compare the two, how much of a wider gap in the African skulls there are between the teeth. If you look at it from maybe this direction, the maxilla also protrudes quite prominently.

Skip to 3 minutes and 46 seconds So that’s another quite defining feature of an African skull, is its prognathism of the maxilla, which you can see with this protrusion.

Skip to 4 minutes and 1 second So I think we could very quite, with a lot of confidence, say that this skull is African, that’s Asian, and that’s European. Yeah, I’d agree with that. Absolutely.

Our demonstrators investigate: determining the ethnicity of a skull

Let’s return to our demonstrators as they try to determine the ethnicity of three different skulls.

We have added a PDF download of the skulls featured in the video in the ‘downloads’ section in the bottom of this page, so if you want to play along and examine the skulls yourself as you watch the demonstrators, you can refer to the image on the PDF.

You’ll have a chance to do this for yourself in the next step.

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Forensic Facial Reconstruction: Finding Mr. X

The University of Sheffield