Cheddar Man: earliest Britons had dark skin and blue eyes

08 February, 2018, 00:45 | Author: Harriet Bell
  • A bust of Cheddar Man complete with shoulder-length dark hair and short facial hair created using 3D printing

Researchers from London's Natural History Museum extracted DNA from the Stone Age skeleton, named "Cheddar Man" which was discovered in 1903, and University College London (UCL) researchers then used genome analysis for a facial reconstruction. DNA from one of the skeleton's teeth revealed it was about 10,000 years old. The dark skin and pale eyes went into the reconstruction, and Cheddar Man is now a sight in the 21 century.

"It's kind of surprising, because you would have thought [light skin] would have come more quickly as people are moving into these different climates", said Dr Brace.

But the new discovery suggests that light skin evolved in European populations much later than is commonly believed. The group, known as Western Hunter-Gatherers, migrated to Europe from the Middle East after the last Ice Age, about 12,000 years ago. Nowadays, about 10 percent of the white British population carries the features of these ancestors.

First Brit: Secrets of the 10,000 Year Old Man will air on Channel 4 on February 18.

The team of investigators were able to gather the conclusive DNA findings by drilling a hole in the skull of Cheddar Man and extracting the DNA material from the powder residue of the skull. This allowed the DNA to remain in such good condition. Experts at the University College of London then used the DNA information to create a facial reconstruction of Cheddar Man, rendering his dark complexion, deep brown hair, and light eyes in life-like detail.

His rugged appearance has provoked amorous feelings among some female commentators, including writer Caitlin Moran, although others are keen to know where Cheddar Woman is, in case he gets lonely. They have established that these early humans were cannibals.

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The New Year ushered in a lot of "new" resolutions and goals from individuals. Fractures that dot his skull suggest the man met his end violently.

In 1997, CNN reported that a man who lived in Cheddar village learned he was a direct descendant of Cheddar Man as scientists compared DNA from the two and found it to be a match.

He said: "I could never have believed that we would one day have his whole genome - the oldest British one to date!"

Cheddar Man is the oldest Briton to have their genome sequenced. "It's been fantastic working with this excellent team, and getting to sample one of the most important human skeletons in the museum collection".

Subscribe and follow up on all round entertainment on our YouTube Channel. "It is very exciting to think that we will be able to share these results and enable the rest of the United Kingdom to see what the first 'Brit" really looked like'.

Alfons Kennis, who made the bust with his brother Adrie, said the DNA findings were "revolutionary".

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