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Forensic sculptor reconstructs hundreds-year-old face

By Elena Watts
May 11, 2014 at 12:11 a.m.
Updated May 12, 2014 at 12:12 a.m.

Amanda Danning, a forensic sculptor, left, reconstructs the face of a centuries-old marquis at the Museum of the Coastal Bend on Saturday. Audrey Corey, a Goliad student  interested in forensic anthropology, watches with her father, William "Chili" Corey.

The forensic anthropologist on Fox network's television series "Bones" brought Audrey Corey, 14, of Cologne, into the Museum of the Coastal Bend on Saturday.

Corey's love of the television series has inspired her to pursue the career brought to life onscreen by the savvy character, Dr. Temperance Brennan.

"I'm not very social, and I wouldn't have to work with people," Audrey said. "And I like to solve mysteries."

The Goliad student and her father, William "Chili" Corey, visited the museum to meet Amanda Danning, a forensic sculptor.

Danning has worked at the museum since Tuesday to reconstruct the face of the Marquis de la Sablonniere.

The French colonist was killed in the 1600s by Karankawa Indians in Victoria County.

His bones were unearthed during the Fort St. Louis excavation more than a decade ago. Enough of his facial bones were intact to allow reconstruction of his face using modeling clay.

Danning spent about 15 hours researching the parts of the Marquis' skull, which were either intact or missing.

She determined how to best approximate the missing parts before she pulled the bones from the mud matrix.

Danning worked with the crew that created the plastic model of the skull for 30 hours. When she had the skull, it took her at least 12 hours to rebuild the missing parts with Chavant modeling clay.

"Filling in the missing parts takes me a long time in order to feel confident that I get a good approximation," Danning said. "Putting the skin on afterwards with monster clay is faster."

Danning estimated that the jaw bone was at least 65 percent accurate. She was confident about the accuracy of the Marquis' bulbous head; his long, narrow nose; his long maxilla - the area from the base of his nose to the top of his lip; his short jaw and his short mid-face. She was less confident about the shape of his eyes.

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