Published: Sat, February 10, 2018
Medical | By

First Briton, 'Cheddar Man' had darker skin, DNA analysis

First Briton, 'Cheddar Man' had darker skin, DNA analysis

Similarly, Cheddar Man's tribe migrated to Britain at the end of the last Ice Age and shared DNA with individuals in Spain, Luxembourg and Hungary.

Researchers from London's Natural History Museum and University College London have recently engaged in a study that re-analyzed the Cheddar Man's remains, in order to better understand what he would have looked like.

"They had dark skin and majority had pale coloured eyes, either blue or green, and dark brown hair".

According to the results, the most distant Britons had dark curly hair, blue eyes, and black skin. It's believed that the Cheddar Man was among the earliest immigrants to the British Isles, back when there was possibly still a narrow land bridge from neighboring France.

The research indicated that the lighter skin characteristic of modern Europeans is recent.

Nicknamed Cheddar Man, the young man's skeleton was found in 1903 in Gough's Cave in Somerset.


"It really shows us that these imaginary racial categories that we have are really very modern constructions, or very recent constructions, that really are not applicable to the past at all", Tom Booth, an archaeologist at London's Natural History Museum who was involved in the analysis, told The Guardian this week of the Cheddar Man findings.

The research also suggests that there were around 30-40,000 people living on the island of Ireland during the era when darker skin was common.

Around 10 percent of the British population shares DNA with the Mesolithic population to which the Cheddar Man belonged, but they aren't direct descendents. The research reveals he had much darker features than was previously assumed, which has implications for our understanding of how lighter pigmentation spread through Europe. "These "Western Hunter-Gatherers" migrated into Europe at the end of the last ice age and the group included Cheddar Man's ancestors".

DNA data used to rebuild his face was extracted by drilling a 2mm hole through the skull's inner ear bone. To allow the model makers to reconstruct Cheddar Man's face using 3D printing, the NHM team employed the use of a hi-tech scanner, originally designed for use on the International Space Station, to render his skull in full detail. Some experts have suggested that ancient humans in more temperate regions were exposed to less sunlight, and therefore evolved to have lighter skin, which absorbs more ultraviolet radiation ― necessary for the production of vitamin D.

Perhaps what's most remarkable about this Cheddar Man news is a hard truth.

The Cheddar Man's skull. "As these continue to develop, we will be able to learn even more".

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