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I wrote an article for Discover about paleo artist John Gurche a few years
back. He painted the dinosaur stamp series and other well-known dino illos. He
also does beautiful sculptures of hominid heads, which is what I focussed on.
Gurche told me that he uses the marks on bones where muscles inserted as a
main source of information. These marks indicate not only where the muscle
inserted but how much it pulled on the bone, which gives an idea how big the
muscle was. He also relies very much on dissections of extant animal species.
And of course, the process is still art -- you have to make judgments about
what is plausible.
My story was in Discover's May 1990 issue. Ian Tattersall wrote a similar
piece focussing on the American Museum of Natural History's full-length
hominid sculptures in the August 1992 Scientific American.
now at Earth magazine