The surprising discovery was made thanks to the DNA analysis of the 10,000-year-old skeleton of the so-called Cheddar man, whose DNA was unusually well preserved possibly due to the cold and stable conditions of the limestone cave in which it was discovered.
The find suggests that the first inhabitants of the British Islands developed white skin much later than previously thought.
An analysis of the 10,000-year-old skeleton of ‘Cheddar Man’, considered the first Briton, has revealed that the pigmentation of his skin was ‘dark to black’, he had curly hair and blue eyes. The surprising discovery, made by scientists at University College London (UCL) and the Natural History Museum, suggests that the clearest pigmentation that is now considered a defining feature of northern Europe is a much more recent phenomenon.
The pioneering work was carried out by a team of experts in Human Evolution and DNA for a new Channel 4 documentary called, ‘First Brit: Secrets of the 10,000-Year-Old Man’.
“The genetic profile of Cheddar Man places him next to other Europeans of the Mesolithic Age of Spain, Hungary, and Luxembourg, whose DNA has already been analyzed. These hunter-gatherers migrated to Europe at the end of the last ice age and the group included Cheddar man’s ancestors, “explained Professor Mark Thomas of the UCL, who managed to plot out the look of Cheddar Man based on DNA analysis.
Currently, around 10% of British Native descendants can be linked to that population. The Cheddar Man was unearthed in 1903 in Gough’s cave in Cheddar Gorge, Somerset, and has been a subject of constant mystery and intrigue.
Experts have tried to reveal what Cheddar Man looked like for more than 100 years, hoping that one day, this 10,000-year-old ancient Brit would reveal more about our earliest ancestors.
Only now, and thanks to state-of-the-art DNA and facial reconstruction have experts managed to see what Cheddar man looked like, and ponder about how 300 generations later he relates to us today.
The Dutch “paleoartists” Alfons and Adrie Kennis created a model of the Cheddar man based on the recent scientific findings: a masculine face with long curly hair, short beard, and remarkable blueish eyes.