Photo Credit: Channel 4

The Cheddar Man is Britain’s oldest complete skeleton and dates back from around 300 generations. 

He earnt his name after being unearthed more than a century ago in Gough’s Cave in Somerset. It has long been thought that he had “dark to black” skin, but new research suggests that he would have had a darker complexion than previously thought, along with blue eyes and dark, curly hair. 

According to Reuters, the research and remodeling process was a result of an upcoming documentary called ‘The First Brit: Secrets of the 10,000-year-old man’. 

Speaking of the discovery, Ian Barnes, research leader at the Natural History Museum, said,”For me, it’s not just the skin colour that’s interesting, it’s the combination of features that make him look not like anyone that you’d see today. Not just dark skin and blue eyes, because you can get that combination, but also the face shape. So all of this combines together and make him just not the same as people you see around today.”

In order to extract the DNA from the bone powder required, Barnes and his colleague Selina Brace drilled a 2-millimetre hole through the skull’s inner ear bone. A 3D model was produced by “palaeo artists” Alfons and Adrie Kennis, who make life-like reconstructions of extinct mammals and early humans. 

“People define themselves by which country they’re from, and they assume that their ancestors were just like them. And then suddenly new research shows that we used to be a totally different people with a different genetic makeup,” noted Alfons. 

Genetically, he belonged to a group of people known as the “western hunter-gatherers”, Mesolithic-era individuals from Spain, Hungary, and Luxembourg. His ancestors migrated to Europe from the Middle East after the Ice age. As of today, 10% of white British people descend from this group. 

 

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