First modern Briton Cheddar Man had 'dark to black skin'

Image Text
 FOUND'Cheddar Man

Despite his name, Cheddar Man would have been unable to digest milk as an adult.

The typical Briton has a creamy white skin but 10,000 years ago, the Islanders would have looked quite different.

Cheddar Man, Britain's oldest skeleton had a dark complexion, curly hair and blue eyes, scientists have discovered. The most noticeable difference between Cheddar Man and modern British people is that the former has a darker skin tone.

Odd external features characterize the progenitor of all Britons who lived in their lands 10,000 years ago, France's press reports. Like most ancient people, the man was short by today's standards, standing only 5 feet and 5 inches tall (1.65m), and likely died young, in his early 20s.

Signs on his skull suggest he met a violent death.

No prehistoric Briton of the age of Cheddar Man had previously had their genome analysed.

DNA is made up of genes.

Thanks to advanced DNA research and 3D printing technologies, we now know what one of the earliest British people looks like.

SHOCK FIND: Oldest Brit reconstructed to show what we looked like 10000 years ago

Sequencing DNA this old can be tricky since remains are susceptible to contamination and deterioration.

The DNA was unusually well preserved, enabling the scientists to sequence Cheddar Man's genome for the first time and to analyse it to establish aspects of his appearance. He is believed to have lived during the Mesolithic Period (circa 7150 BC).

"To extract ancient DNA from a human or animal what you're looking for is a dense bone which might have protected the DNA inside it as much as possible", said Selina Brace, a DNA expert at the Museum. This discovery shows that skin color doesn't dictate geographic origin. Genes for light skin may have only become widespread in Britain around 6,000 years ago, when farmers from the Middle East migrated to the region and began to reproduce with indigenous populations, according to the BBC's Rincon. Pale skin is better at absorbing UV light and helps humans avoid vitamin D deficiency in climates with less sunlight. In time, this population absorbed the local hunter-gatherer tribes Cheddar Man belonged to.

Professor Ian Barnes, research leader at the Natural History Museum, said: "It's not just the skin colour that's interesting, it's that combination of features that make him look not like anyone that you'd see today".

It took close to three months to build the model, with its makers using a high-tech scanner which had been designed for the International Space Station.

A new DNA analysis shows that this ancient man's skin was dark - showing genetic traits similar to that of people from sub-Saharan Africa, according to the findings, a collaboration between the Natural History Museum, University College London, and Channel 4.

"It's a story all about migrations throughout history", Alfons Kennis told Channel 4 for the documentary.

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