Published: Thu, February 08, 2018
Sci-tech | By Eric Barnett

DNA Analysis Paints New Picture of 10000-Year-Old Briton

DNA Analysis Paints New Picture of 10000-Year-Old Briton

Cheddar Man would have lived a hunter-gatherer lifestyle, making sharp blades from flints for butchering animals, useing antlers to whittle harpoons for spear fishing and carving bows and arrows.

Just a few years ago, the reconstruction of his face looked quite different.

The first modern Britons, who lived about 10,000 years ago, had "dark to black" skin, a groundbreaking DNA analysis of Britain's oldest complete skeleton has revealed.

The team focused on genes linked to skin color, hair color and texture and eye color, which suggested he would have had a "dark to black" skin tone and blue eyes.

Cheddar Man's remains had been unearthed 115 years ago in Gough's Cave, located in Somerset's Cheddar Gorge. That is what the reconstruction of Cheddar Man has concluded, the skeleton was discovered in the cave of the same name in the southwestern part of England. Most likely, members of his tribe placed him inside the cave.

The project marks the oldest prehistoric person from the region to have their genome analyzed and recreated. Each genome contains all of the information needed to build and maintain that organism.

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"It's a cracking piece of research, and I think the most exciting thing is that it reminds us humans have got a long story, and we all come from somewhere in Africa". According to the release, DNA was extracted from bone powder taken from Cheddar Man's skull. The skeleton is from the Mesolithic era, or Middle Stone Age, and dates back more than 10,000 years.

"In the cave you have a really nice, cool, dry, constant environment, and that basically prevents the DNA from breaking down", Brace said in a statement.

They then teamed up with researchers at UCL to analyse the results, including gene variants associated with hair, eye and skin colour. "They had dark skin and majority had pale colored eyes, either blue or green, and dark brown hair".

But Cheddar Man has a few surprises within his very bones that are now being unveiled in a new United Kingdom television special. These people, who had a cereal-based diet, were probably deficient in Vitamin D and had to compensate with light skin to absorb this essential nutrient.

To give structure to the reconstruction, Channel 4 and the Museum hired the Dutch brothers Adrie and Alfons Kennis to do a three-dimensional model based off the skull measurements. It was previously assumed that Europeans developed paler skin many thousands of years before Cheddar Man, so he was thought to have had reduced skin pigmentation and fair hair.

Scientists from Britain's Natural History Museum and University College London reported the finding Wednesday after studying the remains of an individual known as "Cheddar Man".

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