Recreate a Face

Discover how DNA can provide clues to recreate the faces of people from the past.

A bit like a recipe book, all the biological instructions for making an organism are contained in a long molecule called DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid). All of the DNA in a cell is called the genome. Within the genome there are sections of DNA called genes. Genes provide specific instructions for our individual characteristics, like eye and hair colour. Sometimes there can be small differences in a gene, for example where there’s an A in one person there may be a T in someone else.

These changes can alter the outcome of the instruction, like giving some people brown eyes and other people blue eyes. These differences are known as genetic variation. It is this variation that makes us all unique, whether in terms of hair colour, skin colour or the shape of our faces. Looking at the DNA profile of people from the past can help us estimate what they might have looked like.

In this activity we will learn how differences in the DNA code can have an impact on our appearance, from our eye colour to our hair colour. Learners will recreate the face of people from the past by looking at DNA profile cards and working out what they could have looked like using a decoder card.