DNA analysis proves first Britons were black with blue eyes
08 February, 2018, 00:48 | Author: Myrtle Cook
Professor Chris Stringer, the Natural History Museum's research leader in human origins, told BBC reporters that he had been "studying the skeleton of Cheddar Man for about 40 years".
No prehistoric Briton of this age had previously had their genome analysed. The Natural History Museum reports that he was discovered back in 1903 during improvements to draining for the popular tourist attraction, Gough's Cave. "They had dark skin and majority had pale colored eyes, either blue or green, and dark brown hair". They note light skin is able to take in more sunlight than darker skin.
The DNA information that gave us a better look at this ancient human specimen came from markers discovered from a rather unlikely source, according to Booth.
Cheddar Man's remains had been unearthed 115 years ago in Gough's Cave, located in Somerset's Cheddar Gorge.
With that, the group posited that lighter complexion associated with northern European population was more of a recent genetic change and skin colour had no connection to the geographical location at that time.
A further investigation by Tom Booth - an archaeologist at the Natural History Museum along with a team assigned to the project uncovered the deeper truth of Cheddar Man's lineage. All those individuals lived in the Mesolithic Period, also known as the Middle Stone Age Period.
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.
It is believed that pale skin probably arrived in Britain with a migration of people from the Middle East around 6,000 years ago.
"Cheddar Man's genetic profile places him with several other Mesolithic-era Europeans from Spain, Hungary and Luxembourg whose DNA has already been analyzed", Mark Thomas, a UCL professor and geneticist, said in a news release.
"People define themselves by which country they're from, and they assume that their ancestors were just like them", said Alfons Kennis, one of the artists who reconstructed Cheddar Man's head using 3D printing.
Prior to this DNA analysis, it was commonly believed that "Cheddar Man" would have had the same traits of pale skin and hair that became common among future generations of Britons.
But Cheddar Man has a few surprises within his very bones that are now being unveiled in a new United Kingdom television special.
The research and remodelling process was documented for show The First Brit: Secrets of the 10,000 Year Old Man, which will be aired on Channel 4 on February 18.
"We love our labels don't we, we love putting ourselves in little pots - but you have still got what is essentially quite a small genetic pool to start with in Homo sapiens", added Dr Undertown.
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