Here's what Skyrim's skeletons looked like, according to genetic anthropologists

(Image credit: Ancestral Whispers, Bethesda)

A global group of students have used genetic anthropology to reimagine what Skyrim's skeletons might have looked like.

Ancestral Whispers is a project aiming to improve soft-tissue reconstructions - the process of plotting what a person's muscles and skin might have looked like based on their bones - using the work of Soviet-era archeologist and anthropologist Mikhail Gerasimov. Since the group met at a conference in Rome in 2019, it has reconstructed the faces of dozens of prehistoric humans, using a meticulous process outlined using the example of Sungir1, an adult male discovered in Russia, whose grave dates back to around 35,000BC. 

While all of the examples on the Ancestral Whispers site are based on real archeological sites, last week, one of the group's members posted a reconstruction to Twitter. That post featured an image "of an ancient Atmoran from Saarthal, dated to the late Merethic era."

Skyrim fans were quick to spot what turned out to be a cunning April Fool's joke. Atmora is a continent found to the north of Tamriel, where the Elder Scrolls games take place. Similarly, Saarthal is the long-lost former capital of Skyrim, and is now a tomb that you can explore near Winterhold, while the Merethic era is a time period that took place some 4,450 to 7,000 years before the events of The Elder Scrolls 5. Essentially, Ancestral Whispers had taken the head of one of Skyrim's skeletons, and applied its reconstruction process to the model.

The result is quite the handsome chap, especially when you factor in that impressive Nordic beard. There's a powerful jaw involved too, which is pretty necessary when your diet consists mostly of mammoth meat.

It's not clear exactly what the limits of Ancestral Whispers' reconstruction process is, but the group accepts payments for community submissions. Personally, I wonder what Doom Eternal's Revenant might look like with a little extra meat on its bones.

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Ali Jones
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