Juliette Brophy, LSU paleoanthropologist, explains to us her research that helped identify a newly-discovered human ancestor, the Homo Naledi. This new species was found in a 130-mile long narrow cave system in South Africa.

Making Faces

Feb 8, 2016
Larry Livaudais, LSU FACES Laboratory

When local authorities find a decomposed body they can’t identify, what do they do?

Well, they send it to the LSU FACES Laboratory.

“It goes through a processing stage where anthropologists try to identify the gender, the race, and the approximate age range," says Larry Livaudais, the Imaging Specialist and Facial Reconstructionist at the FACES Lab. "Then after that it comes to me and I try to put a face to it as best I can with the clay.”

Dr. Juliet Brophy

On the corner of Dr. Juliet Brophy's desk is a skull fossil. "We have Australopithecus africanus, known as Mrs. Ples, that’s my favorite fossil. Everytime I see her I get all dressed up," she says. 

There's an old saying in the South: "A child's gotta eat their share of dirt."

Mamie Lee Hillman's family took this literally, but they weren't after just any old dirt.

"I remember my mom and my aunties eating that white dirt like it was nothing," says Hillman, who grew up in Greene County, Ga., and used to go with her family to dig for their own dirt to snack on. "It was an acceptable thing that people did."