Published: Thu, February 08, 2018
Science | By

Cheddar Man shows white skin could be a recent phenomenon

Cheddar Man shows white skin could be a recent phenomenon

The group, known as Western Hunter-Gatherers, moved to Europe from the Middle East after the last Ice Age, about 12,000 years ago. It is believed Cheddar Man is related to one in 10 people living across the United Kingdom today.

Archaeologists discovered the centuries-old fossil, known as Cheddar Man, more than 100 years ago in Gough's Cave in Somerset, U.K., The Guardian reported.

Prior to this DNA analysis, it was commonly believed that "Cheddar Man" would have had the same traits of pale skin and hair that became common among future generations of Britons. We now know so much more about this very special individual who lived in Cheddar Gorge 10,000 years ago.

DNA data used to rebuild his face was extracted by drilling a 2mm hole through the skull's inner ear bone.

"With the new DNA information, it was really revolutionary".

Then, a pair of Dutch artists who are experts in palaeontological model-making, Mr Alfons Kennis and his brother, Mr Adrie Kennis, used a high-tech scanner to make a three-dimensional model of Cheddar Man's head.

"He is just one person, but also indicative of the population of Europe at the time", added Tom Booth, a postdoctoral researcher at the Museum. Humans had lived in Britain off and on for thousands of years before his time, but they had been wiped out during periodic ice ages. Fractures that dot his skull suggest the man met his end violently.

Subsequent examination has shown that the man was short by today's standards - about 5ft 5in - and probably died in his early 20s.


"This is not what I would have guessed for someone in Britain 10,000 years ago".

"To go beyond what the bones tell us and get a scientifically-based picture of what he actually looked like is a remarkable and surprising achievement".

"Hopefully this is just the start for the team involved in this research, and will allow them to expand their knowledge".

Despite the scientific development, some appeared to be disheartened to discover that the Cheddar Man trending topic was unrelated to food. "It's been fantastic working with this excellent team, and getting to sample one of the most important human skeletons in the museum collection".

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"But in fact what we think is they had a very meat and fish-rich diet, so it was quite likely they were getting their vitamin D from there".

The documentary will air on Channel 4 on February 18, UCL said in a news release on Wednesday.

The discovery shows that pale skin tones developed in Europe much later than originally thought. It is a world-leading science research centre, and through its unique collection and unrivalled expertise it is tackling issues such as food security, eradicating diseases and managing resource scarcity.

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