Pioneering research reveals what first modern Briton looked like

Pioneering research reveals what first modern Briton looked like

Pioneering research reveals what first modern Briton looked like

The face of "Cheddar Man", Britain's oldest almost complete skeleton at 10,000 years old, is revealed for the first time and with unprecedented accuracy by UCL and Natural History Museum researchers.

But while initial reconstructions portrayed him with light skin and brown eyes, the full DNA analysis has shown him to have "dark to black skin". Since then, scientists have worked hard to predict what he might look like, all the while reconstructing "Cheddar Man".

The whole story will be presented in an upcoming Channel 4 documentary, First Brit: Secrets of the 10,000 Year Old Man.

To extract the DNA, researchers and scientists working on the project, had to insert a small incision into the skull by drilling into the bone. "Cheddar Man is special because he represents the population occupying Europe at the time", said Tom Booth, a bio-archaeologist at the museum. Intense speculation has built up around Cheddar Man's origins and appearance because he lived shortly after the first settlers crossed from continental Europe to Britain at the end of the last ice age. The discovery of Cheddar Man's dark skin shows "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", he told The Guardian.

Scientists drilled a 2mm hole in his skull and extracted bone powder for DNA.

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

"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.

His ancestors had originally migrated to Europe from the Middle East. "It has always changed and will change".

The research analysed Ireland's populations from approximately 6,000 years ago as part of a joint project between TCD and the National Museum of Ireland and found that the existence of darker skin in Ireland from two different sets of remains. "Pale skin is better at absorbing UV light and helps humans avoid vitamin D deficiency in climates with less sunlight".

Proof of this, interestingly, can be found in earlier reconstructions of Cheddar Man that reveal an emphasis on perhaps forcing a modern Eurocentric narrative.

The reason for his name could be because Cheddar Man's remains had been unearthed 115 years ago in Gough's Cave, located in Somerset's Cheddar Gorge.

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