You can debate how much we have evolved emotionally since our early primate days in Africa, but there’s no arguing about our looks. At that point in human development. we were to beauty what the butt is to fine cuisine - distantly related, and in all the wrong ways.
How can we tell? Popular Science has a new $6 iPad app that maps your face to the digital skulls and muscles of eight of our extinct forebears. And the results aren't pretty.
Ugly Is As Ugly Was
PS Evolver is a top-rate teaching app, concisely explaining a lot about these early hominids and the worlds in which they lived. But you’ll want to buy it for the face-mapping feature.
It’s one thing to know that our various ape-like ancestors had a jutting jaw, a flat and flaring nose or a brow you could rest a pencil on. It’s another to see how you’d have looked with those features.
Seeing my skin wrapped around an ancient, weirdly constructed skull was bracing, and made me wonder again if Mick Jagger isn’t really a flash-frozen caveman rescued from a peat bog in the 1950s. I mean, check it out:
It's Easy To Travel Back In Time
Getting the images is easy. Match your eyes and mouth to guides on your iPad’s screen (sorry, iPad only) and take a photo. The app shows you thumbnail images of your ape self, there for you to choose. Click on one, and you can expand, shrink and spin the image on every axis.
There’s plenty of information about that particular failed branch of the human experiment, including a sober, PBS-esque voiceover about their lives. Learn how long they lived, how big their brains were (one line’s brains were larger than ours), even what liked to eat them.
The app crashes too often, and for some reason, the Neanderthal face-map sometimes doesn’t render, but bagging on the app because of this is like complaining about the wrapping paper on a birthday present. There’s a lot of enjoyment here.