Tuesday, 23 October, 2018

Oldest Known Briton Cheddar Man Had Dark Skin, Blue Eyes

Face of first Brit revealed - UCL Analysis of 10000-year-old DNA finds first modern Brits had dark skin, blue eyes
Doris Mccormick | 09 February, 2018, 02:05

But a human man that lived in Britain 10,000 years ago during the Mesolithic had dark to black skin, DNA analysis reveals - showing that reduced skin pigmentation arrived in the British Isles much later than we thought. As per the scientists, the Cheddar lived more than 10,000 years ago, had brown hair, blue eyes and dark to black skin.

Tottenham MP David Lammy, who is black, said knowing of the existence of Cheddar Man would have helped him to deal with hard questions when he was younger.

The archaeologist Tom Booth from the Natural History Museum who worked on this project was quoted saying "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".

Cheddar Man's origin and appearance garnered growing speculation among scientists because his presence in Britain came shortly after the first people in the country traversed the English Channel from mainland Europe at the end of the last ice age, according to The Guardian.

Thanks to new technology, researchers at University College London and the Natural History Museum were recently able to genetically analyze the skeleton using DNA extracted from the skull and to make a facial reconstruction.

The densest bone in the human body is the petrous part of the temporal bones at the sides of the skull, and it was this that the team drilled into to extract a sample.

To achieve realistic facial reconstruction objectives, identical twin brothers (adding to the genetic irony) Alfons and Adrie Kennis first scanned the skull to make a working 3D model.

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This allowed the team to compare markers for physical traits, and determine what the Cheddar Man could have looked like.

Three hundred generations later, around 10 percent of indigenous British ancestry can be linked to Cheddar Man's people, scientists say.

"The historical perspective that you get just tells you that things change, things are in flux, and what may seem as a cemented truth, that people feel the British should have white skin through time, is not at all something that is an immutable truth", Dr Yoan Dieckmann, a University College London who participated in the study, told the press. The Cheddar Man is around a thousand years old at this point, dating back to the period immediately after Ice Age and a time when Britain was a very different place.

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

"They had dark skin and majority had pale coloured eyes, either blue or green, and dark brown hair". "Pale skin is better at absorbing UV light and helps humans avoid vitamin D deficiency in climates with less sunlight".

The Cheddar Man is named after Cheddar Gorge, a location in Somerset, in England, where cheddar cheese was first popularized.

Perhaps what's most remarkable about this Cheddar Man news is a hard truth.

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