gpolit.com
gpolit.com May 21, 2018


First People in Britain Had 'Dark to Black Skin': DNA Analysis

09 February 2018, 02:06 | Camille Rivera

A pair of Dutch artists used a high-tech scanner to make a 3D model of Cheddar Man's head

A pair of Dutch artists used a high-tech scanner to make a 3D model of Cheddar Man's head

"Cheddar Man", Britain's oldest, almost complete human skeleton, had dark skin, blue eyes and dark curly hair when he lived in what is now southwest England 10,000 years ago, scientists who read his DNA have discovered.

Cheddar Man - who had previously been portrayed as having brown eyes and light skin - was among the first permanent settlers to make the United Kingdom their home, and is related to around 10 percent of the modern population there.

Previous reconstructions of Cheddar Man, which were not based on DNA data, depicted him with a lighter skin tone.

Their process and findings will be featured in an upcoming documentary called First Brit: Secrets of the 10,000 Year Old Man.

The DNA was unusually well-preserved, enabling the scientists to sequence Cheddar Man's genome for the first time and to analyze it to establish aspects of his appearance. Tom Booth, a bio-archaeologist at the museum said that Cheddar Man is special as he represents the population occupying Europe at present.

Britain's oldest complete skeleton, known as Cheddar Man, was unearthed more than a century ago in Somerset.

A bust of Cheddar Man, complete with shoulder-length dark hair and short facial hair, was created using 3D printing.

In a joint project between Britain's Natural History Museum and University College London, scientists drilled a 2mm hole into the skull and extracted bone powder for analysis.

Jess Gofton tweeted: "If 1 in 10 of us are related to #cheddarman, does that mean we're all Mini Cheddars?"

Alfons Kennis, who made the bust with his brother Adrie, said the DNA findings were "revolutionary". A new study into the earliest known inhabitant of the British Isles has revealed something surprising: the so-called "Cheddar Man" was, in fact, dark-skinned.

His ancestors migrated to Europe from the Middle East after the Ice Age and today, 10% of White British people are descended from the group.

"It has always changed and will change", he emphasized.

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. Perhaps because they weren't eating as much vitamin D-rich protein such as fish, humans adapted to the cloudier environments of areas such as Britain and Scandinavia by developing lighter skin that could help them produce more vitamin D. Skin colour, in other words, is just as much the result of changing conditions and lifestyle as it was migrating from one part of the world to another.

Proof of this, interestingly, can be found in earlier reconstructions of Cheddar Man that reveal an emphasis on perhaps forcing a modern Eurocentric narrative.



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