New images of one of an enduring mysteries, the unknown Somerton Man, have been developed with AI in a bid to create his true face and finally identify him.
New images of one of an enduring mysteries, the unknown Somerton Man, have been developed with AI in a bid to create his true face and finally identify him.

Is this what the Somerton Man really looked like?

Researchers hope new enhanced imagery in one of Adelaide's most baffling cases will identify the Somerton Man, after more than 70 years.

Professor Derek Abbott from the University of Adelaide, who specialises in biomedical engineering, has been researching the case of the Somerton Man for more than 10 years and hopes a new image created by a Canadian designer will be a breakthrough in identifying him.

"What I've converged on is trying to identify the man because for me that seems like the question that is the most solvable," Prof Abbott said.

The case of the Somerton Man, including who he was and how he died, has been under investigation since his body was found by two apprentice jockeys around sunrise on December 1 in 1948 on Somerton Beach.

The man’s body was found slumped on Somerton Beach on December 1, 1948.
The man’s body was found slumped on Somerton Beach on December 1, 1948.

The man was fully clothed, slumped beside concrete steps at Somerton Beach. The investigation pathologist's personal notes were published by The Advertiser last year after being found in Mortlock Library.

Theories of the identity of the Somerton Man are complex, with some believing he was a Cold War double agent, a Russian spy, or an American sailor travelling to Adelaide to visit an illegitimate son.

In the professor's research, he discovered the Somerton Man was dressed in an American shirt and tie.

An ‘X’ marks the spot where the man’s body was found.
An ‘X’ marks the spot where the man’s body was found.

Prof Abbott and his team approached Daniel Voshart, from Toronto, after noticing his work using statues of Roman Emperors to recreate portraits of the men.

Mr Voshart used a black and white image after the autopsy, taken in 1948, and a cast made during the investigation to create an image of what the Somerton Man could have looked like while alive.

Left, the Somerton Manmay in an autopsy photo – right, Daniel Voshart’s new image made with AI. Picture: Daniel Voshart
Left, the Somerton Manmay in an autopsy photo – right, Daniel Voshart’s new image made with AI. Picture: Daniel Voshart

 

The 34-year-old, who has designed Star Trek characters for TV, put the related images into an artificial intelligence program, as well as Photoshop to design the image and new a plaster of the Somerton Man's possible face.

Mr Voshart said it was cool to be involved in the process.

"I entered it not knowing really anything (about the case)," Mr Voshart said. "Every twist and turn is pretty wild."

Prof Abbott said Mr Voshart's work is "amazing".

"All we had was a photo of the man after the autopsy, which often doesn't look like someone while they're alive."

Canadian film designer Daniel Voshart used new technology to create a new image of what the Somerton Man have looked like. Picture: Daniel Voshart
Canadian film designer Daniel Voshart used new technology to create a new image of what the Somerton Man have looked like. Picture: Daniel Voshart

Prof Abbott said he hoped the enhanced image would help solve the mystery of the man's identity, and assist in future investigations of a similar nature.

"What I'm hoping with that is when researchers go through old records or people go through family albums. people question if a photo looks like this new image."

He hoped to match DNA taken from a hair sample from the Somerton Man at the Keswick Police Station with online DNA registries.

'I could see all this coming together in the next few years."

Originally published as Is this what the Somerton Man really looked like?

SA detectives hold belongings that in a suitcase recovered at Adelaide Railway Station linked to the body, in the hope someone recognised the items. Picture:
SA detectives hold belongings that in a suitcase recovered at Adelaide Railway Station linked to the body, in the hope someone recognised the items. Picture:


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