Blue-eyed and dark: Meet the early Briton

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Cheddar Man, is the first known skeleton of its age to have a full, successful genome analysis.

"The earliest Irish would have been the same as Cheddar Man and would have had darker skin than we have today", Prof Bradley said.

Now, using the latest in DNA analysis, scanning technology, and modeling techniques, they have just completed his reconstruction, and he looks quite fascinating. Scientists say that DNA from the Cheddar Man population can be linked to about 10 per cent of the genetic make-up of modern Europeans. "It's been fantastic working with this excellent team, and getting to sample one of the most important human skeletons in the museum collection".

The Cheddar Man is named after Cheddar Gorge, a location in Somerset, in England, where cheddar cheese was first popularized. As per the scientists, the Cheddar lived more than 10,000 years ago, had brown hair, blue eyes and dark to black skin.

UCL geneticist Mark Thomas said Cheddar Man's genetic profile "places him with several other Mesolithic-era Europeans from Spain, Hungary and Luxembourg who's DNA has already been analysed". "These "Western Hunter-Gatherers" migrated into Europe at the end of the last ice age and the group included Cheddar Man's ancestors".

Dr. Rick Schulting, an archaeology professor at Oxford University, spoke about the development, arguing that the DNA evidence establishes a very compelling link between the past and present: "It may be that we may have to rethink some of our notions of what it is to be British, what we expect a Briton to look like at this time".

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The Kinnis brothers responsible for the facial reconstruction.

Dutch Paleo-artists Adrie and Alfons Kennis discuss creating the remarkable face of Cheddar Man for forthcoming Channel 4 doc. The Kennis brothers are experts in recreating scientifically accurate animals and humans, with a focus on human evolution. Especially today, when questions of personal and national identity are being debated. "It is very surprising that a Brit 10,000 years ago could have that combination of very blue eyes but really dark skin", said Chris Stringer of Natural history Museum. To be able to completely reconstruct what Cheddar man looked like in so much detail from such a small amount of DNA is incredible. He adds: "We're delighted to be playing a part in these historic findings".

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

DNA, from inside the skull of Cheddar Man, was sequenced.

The analysis also ruled out an ancestral link with individuals inhabiting Gough's Cave 5,000 years earlier, who appear to have performed grisly cannibalistic rituals, including gnawing on human toes and fingers - possibly after boiling them - and drinking from polished skull cups.

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