First People in Britain Had 'Dark to Black Skin': DNA Analysis

First People in Britain Had 'Dark to Black Skin': DNA Analysis

This week, United Kingdom scientists confirmed that the first modern Briton had dark skin and blue eyes, following groundbreaking DNA analysis of the remains of a man who lived 10,000 years ago.

IT'S LIKELY THAT the early Irish populations had dark skin, similar to the Cheddar Man discovery made in the United Kingdom this week, according to genetic experts. 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.

Cheddar Man would have lived a hunter-gatherer lifestyle, making sharp blades from flints for butchering animals, using antlers to whittle harpoons for spear fishing and carving bows and arrows.

Cheddar Man's tribe was one of the first groups of people to move back into Britain at the end of the last Ice Age.

They would then have travelled west into Europe, before crossing the ancient land bridge called Doggerland which connected Britain to continental Europe.

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Cheddar Man's skeleton was discovered in 1903 in Gough's Cave, located in Cheddar Gorge in Somerset.

Further examination has shown that the man was short by today's standards - about 5ft 5in - and possibly died in his early 20s. Scientist extracted the DNA from the bone powder of Cheddar Man by drilling a 2-millimeter hole in his skull.

The research and remodelling process was documented for Channel 4 show The First Brit: Secrets of the 10,000 Year Old Man.

Ian Barnes, says: "Cheddar Man is one of the oldest human specimens that we've worked with, and yet the preservation of DNA has been good enough to recover huge amounts of information about his appearance and ancestry".

Around 10 percent of the British population shares DNA with the Mesolithic population to which the Cheddar Man belonged, but they aren't direct descendents. However, Cheddar Man had "ancestral" versions of all these genes, strongly suggesting he would have had "dark to black" skin tone, but combined with blue eyes.

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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.

Perhaps what's most remarkable about this Cheddar Man news is a hard truth.

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

Cheddar Man skeleton © Trustees of the Natural History Museum, London [2018].

Cheddar Man does not share any direct ancestry with the people who inhabited Gough's Cave almost 5,000 years earlier. Humans had lived in Britain off and on for thousands of years before his time, but they had been wiped out during periodic ice ages.

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