'Cheddar Man,' Britain's Oldest Skeleton, Had Dark Skin, DNA Shows
09 February, 2018, 05:36
It was initially thought that the Cheddar Man had pale skin and fair hair but DNA analysis revealed that he had blue eyes, a very dark brown to black complexion and dark curly hair.
Researchers Professor Barnes and Dr. Selina Brace were able to take DNA data from Cheddar Man's bone powder by drilling a 2mm hole through his skull's inner ear bone. Cheddar Man'sgenome shows that Europeans didn't develop pale skin until a few thousand years ago, rather than tens of thousands of years ago when humans first migrated west onto the European continent.
Nicknamed Cheddar Man, the young man's skeleton was found in 1903 in Gough's Cave in Somerset.
Speaking on RTÉ Morning Ireland, professor of population genetics at Trinity College Dublin, Dan Bradley, said his team have made similar findings about early Irish people.
A sample pulled from bone dust extracted from Cheddar Man's skull provided scientists with a full genome that enabled them to reconstruct the shape of Cheddar Man's face as well as discover the colour of his skin, eyes and hair. It's always been understood that our earliest ancestors were black and that the lighter skin pigmentation present across northern Europe evolved relatively recently in human history. "The current, very light skin we have in Ireland now is at the endpoint of thousands of years of surviving in a climate where there's very little sun", Bradley said.
He said their findings suggest the DNA is linked to individuals from Spain and Luxembourg, people who populated western European after the last Ice Age but before the farming era.
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. Cheddar Man is believed to have been a hunter-gatherer during the Mesolithic period.
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The Natural History Museum researchers extracted the DNA from part of the skull of Cheddar Man near the ear known as the petrous. Many dismissing the scientists claims as left-wing "propaganda" and asked "does this mean nobody can be accused of racism now".
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