ARNHEM – Arnhem’s twin brothers Alfons and Adrie Kennis recently made headlines because they gave the first Dutch Neanderthal a face with a cast. “Before, we couldn’t do anything at school, we weren’t good at languages or math,” Adrie told Omroep Gelderland’s De Week van Gelderland program. “But we were good with the pictures and the drawing, so we started to work on that.”
And it started in high school. Alfons: “We didn’t read much, but we were interested in biology and anatomy. So we read about it and we immersed ourselves in it.”
“And it was very convenient at times,” says Adrie. “Then we would cycle home from school. Then you would find a dead cat on the way, for example. We took it with us. At home, the head was cut off and we boiled the skull. And we have studied this. “
Eventually, work increasingly turned to paleontology, the science that studies fossil remains or organisms and uses them to make geological reconstructions of life on Earth – and how it has evolved. With the Kennis brothers, she eventually specialized in the reconstruction of faces and bodies of humans or predecessors. They are considered paleo artists.
“An illustrator, Jan Jutte d’Arnhem, saw our work and introduced us to scientists in Amsterdam,” says Adrie. “Finally, we also went to conferences,” Alfons adds. “We also received material there from the scientists we met there and we started working with that.”
In the end, they reconstructed several hominids thousands of years old. For example from the ice mummy Ötzi and now from the first Dutch Neanderthal, named Krijn. The work is highly regarded in science around the world. It’s not for nothing that the brothers have been featured several times in National Geographic. In 2014 and 2015, they received the first international Lanzendorf PaleoArt award for their work.
Danish of thousands of years
After their successful rebuilding of Krijn, the brothers aren’t exactly standing still. They are now well advanced again with Tollund, a man of several thousand years from Denmark. And the purpose of their work always remains the same. Adrie: “We want our designs to be true to nature, realistic and surprising. We are not claiming that our reconstructions show exactly what a man or woman looked like at one time, but we want to get as close as possible to reality, for the latest scientific knowledge. “
Watch the conversation with the Kennis brothers in De Week van Gelderland:
Reconstruction of Dutch Neanderthals gives Arnhem brothers worldwide fame
“Food expert. Unapologetic bacon maven. Beer enthusiast. Pop cultureaholic. General travel scholar. Total internet buff.”