Published: Fri, February 09, 2018
Medical | By Jackie Banks

DNA analysis of Cheddar Man reveals early Brits had darker skin

DNA analysis of Cheddar Man reveals early Brits had darker skin

"Until recently it was always assumed that humans quickly adapted to have paler skin after entering Europe about 45,000 years ago", explains Bloom, the Natural History Museum researcher.

The 10,000-year-old human remains dubbed the "Cheddar Man" - named after the area in southwest England they were found - revealed a wealth of information this week, most notably that he likely had dark skin and blue eyes. It is thought that the cool temperature in the cave helped to preserve the skeleton's valuable DNA.

However, in-depth examination of the DNA data and facial reconstruction of the fossil, showed that Cheddar Man would have had a darker complexion than previously thought, along with blue eyes and dark, curly hair.

He lived around 10,000 years ago, after his hunting and gathering ancestors migrated to Europe at the end of the last Ice Age, a time when Britain was attached to continental Europe.

A previous attempt to reconstruct the face of the Cheddar Man.

"It really shows up 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 the Natural History Museum who worked on the project, told The Guardian.

The documentary of the DNA analysis and the complete making of the Cheddar Man has been put together as a 60-minute film which finally unveils the resultant model head of the Cheddar Man.

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Over the past 90 years, the company has received "countless" photos from parents who see their own babies in the famous sketch. They entice people by presenting their conception of the ideal home, the flawless body, or the flawless vehicle .

To obtain DNA from ancient remains, the best place to look are the densest bones available. They made a tiny hole just 2 millimetres in diameter.

Dutch Paleo-artists Adrie and Alfons Kennis discuss creating the remarkable face of Cheddar Man for forthcoming Channel 4 doc.

Cheddar Man's DNA was also analysed back in the 1990's by Oxford University's Brian Sykes, who sequenced Mitochondrial DNA (DNA passed from mother to child) from Cheddar Man's teeth.

"Cheddar Man was about 166 centimetres (5'5") tall, and died in his 20s.

We know from other archaeological research that he was a hunter-gatherer, and during his life he would have eaten seeds, nuts, red deer, wild aurochs, and freshwater fish.

According to the Museum, modern British people share about 10 percent of their DNA with the population to which Cheddar Man belonged, which means that, if you're British, you can proudly say, "We are all Cheddar Man".

Instead, experts believe that those Mesolithic Europeans were replaced by a new population of farmers that migrated into Britain at a later time.

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