First Briton, 'Cheddar Man' had darker skin, DNA analysis

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The modern Briton - who had dark skin, blue eyes and black curly hair - has been reconstructed using groundbreaking DNA research. Since the DNA contained in the bone powder was in oddly good nick, the scientists were able to sequence Cheddar Man's genome and draw conclusions about his appearance.

Researchers from London's Natural History Museum extracted DNA from Cheddar Man, which was discovered in 1903, and have learned a bit more about him.

"They had dark skin and majority had pale colored eyes, either blue or green, and dark brown hair".

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.

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The Dutch model makers, Adrie and Alfons Kennis, used a hi-tech scanner to acquire the measurements for Cheddar Man's full skull, adding flesh and facial features "based on the results of the scientific research".

The round of genetic tests carried out by the University College London together with the highly esteemed Natural History Museum, were performed on "Cheddar Man", who scientists estimate died roughly 10,000 years ago, after the end of the Ice Age. This suggests that the population moved from Africa through the Middle East, then across Europe and onto Britain thanks to the Doggerland land bridge, which connected the continent to the island during the time Cheddar Man was alive.

To be more specific, archaeologists now think that what changed the skin colour of Europeans over time was not simply migrating onto the continent.

No prehistoric Briton of the age of Cheddar Man had previously had their genome analysed.

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

"Until recently it was always assumed that humans quickly adapted to have paler skin after entering Europe about 45,000 years ago", explains Bloom, the Natural History Museum researcher.

Scientists believe that populations living in Europe became lighter-skinned over time because pale skin absorbs more sunlight, which is required to produce enough vitamin D. The latest findings suggest pale skin may have emerged later, possibly when the advent of farming meant people were obtaining less vitamin D though dietary sources like oily fish. He was lactose intolerant.

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