First Britons were black


First modern Britons had ‘dark to black’ skin, Cheddar Man DNA analysis reveals
The genome of Cheddar Man, who lived 10,000 years ago, suggests that he had blue eyes, dark skin and dark curly hair

The first modern Britons, who lived about 10,000 years ago, had “dark to black” skin, a groundbreaking DNA analysis of Britain’s oldest complete skeleton has revealed.

The fossil, known as Cheddar Man, was unearthed more than a century ago in Gough’s Cave in Somerset. 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. People of white British ancestry alive today are descendants of this population.

Cheddar Man is a human male fossil found in Gough’s Cave in Cheddar Gorge, Somerset, England. The skeletal remains date to the Mesolithic (ca. 9100 BP) and it appears that he died a violent death. A large crater-like lesion just above the skull’s right orbit suggests that the man may have also been suffering from a bone infection.

Excavated in 1903 in Gough’s Cave in Somerset, Cheddar Man is Britain’s oldest complete human skeleton. The remains are kept by the Natural History Museum in London in the new Human Evolution gallery.

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.

It was initially assumed that Cheddar Man had pale skin and fair hair, but his DNA paints a different picture, strongly suggesting he had blue eyes, a very dark brown to black complexion and dark curly hair.

The discovery shows that the genes for lighter skin became widespread in European populations far later than originally thought – and that skin colour was not always a proxy for geographic origin in the way it is often seen to be

Analysis of his nuclear DNA indicates that he was a typical member of the western European population at the time, probably with lactose intolerance, dark skin, blue eyes, and dark curly or wavy hair.
Nuclear DNA sequence data

Nuclear DNA was extracted from the petrous part of the temporal bone by a team from the Natural History Museum in 2018.
The genetic markers suggested (based on their associations in modern populations whose phenotypes are known) that he probably had blue eyes, lactose intolerance, dark curly or wavy hair, and, less certainly, dark to very dark skin. These features are typical of the European population of the time, now known as West European Hunter-Gatherers. This population forms about 10%, on average, of the ancestry of Britons without a recent family history of immigration.
The mitochondrial DNA of Cheddar Man was of haplogroup U5b1.
] Some 65% of western European Mesolithic hunter-gatherers had haplogroup U5; today it is widely distributed, at lower frequencies, across western Eurasia and northern Africa. In 1996, Bryan Sykes of the University of Oxford first sequenced the mitochondrial DNA from one of Cheddar Man’s molars.
There was no genetic link with the other skeletons from Gough’s Cave, which are 5,000 years older than Cheddar Man. For much of this intervening period, the last glaciation of Europe had made the area unsuitable for human life.

Genetic change in Britain since the Mesolithic:

Britain was periodically settled and then cleared during ice ages until the end of the last glacial period about 11,700 years ago, since when it has been continuously inhabited.

Until now, though, it hasn’t been clear whether each wave of migrants was seeded from the same population in mainland Europe; the latest results suggest this was not the case.

The team homed in on genes known to be linked to skin colour, hair colour and texture, and eye colour. For skin tone, there are a handful of genetic variants linked to reduced pigmentation, including some that are very widespread in European populations today. 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

[SIZE=7]Meet Cheddar Man: First modern Britons had dark skin and blue eyes[/SIZE]

By Jennifer Hassan
February 7, 2018 at 1:04 p.m. EST

(Channel 4/Plimsoll Productions photo by London Natural History Museum)

They call him Cheddar Man.
He lived more than 10,000 years ago, had brown hair, blue eyes and “dark to black” skin. To the surprise of many, he is believed to have been the first modern Briton.

A new project from London’s Natural History Museum and University College London has revealed groundbreaking DNA results that give a much clearer image of early British inhabitants. Cheddar Man’s skeleton was discovered in 1903 in Gough’s Cave, located in Cheddar Gorge in Somerset, England. It is thought that the cool temperature in the cave helped to preserve the skeleton’s valuable DNA.

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“If the body was deposited in a good environment, where there was a cool and constant temperature, then the petrous bone is a good place to find useful ancient DNA,” said the Natural History Museum’s Selina Brace, who specializes in the study of ancient DNA. Scientists obtained DNA from Cheddar Man by drilling a 2-millimeter hole in his skull and extracting bone powder.

Initially, it was assumed that the man, who died in his 20s, had pale skin, but new analysis and facial reconstruction have revealed quite the opposite. It is now believed that Cheddar Man’s ancestors arrived in Britain via the Middle East after leaving Africa.

“Cheddar Man”, Britain’s oldest nearly complete human skeleton, had darker skin than previously thought, scientists who read his DNA have discovered. (Video: Reuters)
“Cheddar Man is special because he represents the population occupying Europe at the time,” said Tom Booth, a bio-archaeologist at the museum. “They had dark skin, and most of them had pigmented eyes, either blue or green.” Data and software used in forensics gave Booth and the team a clearer understanding of Cheddar Man’s skin pigmentation and how dark it was. The investigation into the skeletal remains revealed that Cheddar Man had “genetic markers of skin pigmentation usually associated with sub-Saharan Africa.”
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“Cheddar Man’s skeleton revealed damage to the front of the skull, which led us to believe he had a violent death. But when we looked again, it appeared likely that the damage occurred since being dug up,” Booth explained. “It’s quite hard to figure out from the bones how he died, as most illnesses don’t leave a trace on human remains.”

Using 3-D printing, Adrie and Alfons Kennis were able to bring Cheddar Man to life. The model took several months to build and is described as “truly unique.” Booth described their work as “amazing” and said the two brothers are skilled “wizards” who were able to bring years of hard work and research to life.

Experts say the ancestor was a Mesolithic hunter-gatherer who would have spent his days carving tools, fishing and hunting animals. Researchers say he was around 166 centimeters (5’4 inches) in height. It is believed that Cheddar Man is related to 1 in 10 people living across the United Kingdom today. (Booth also said that, ironically, Cheddar Man was lactose intolerant.)
“Cheddar Man existed before farming had spread to Britain. By looking, we can tell he would have been unable to digest raw milk,” Booth said.

It didn’t take long for Cheddar Man to trend worldwide on Twitter. Reactions to the extraordinary findings were mixed. Some praised the work of those involved with the reconstruction of Britain’s oldest skeleton.
“Some excellent work by some brilliant colleagues — dark skinned and blue eyed Cheddar Man, one of the first successful colonizers of Britain. How cool is this?” one Twitter user said.
Others focused on the racial tension in Britain and pointed out that perhaps not all Brits would be happy about their ties to the ancient human.
“Oh my. There’s going to be some very unhappy racist Britons out there today,” read one tweet.
In true British style, many social media users reacted to Wednesday’s news with celebrity comparisons and cheese-related puns that did not disappoint.

“Cheddar man: Black Britons date fromages ago,” tweeted one user.

Despite the scientific development, some appeared to be disheartened to discover that the Cheddar Man trending topic was unrelated to food.
“Quite disappointed seeing that ‘Cheddar Man’ is trending to find out that the first Briton wasn’t in fact made of cheese,” one tweeted.

Not wanting to miss out on the fun, television personality Piers Morgan was quick to compare the ancient fossil to successful business magnate Lord Alan Sugar.

British station Channel 4 will air a TV documentary titled “The First Brit: Secrets of the 10,000-Year-Old Man” next week. The documentary was filmed last summer.

Booth, who worked on the project for almost four years, said the Cheddar Man story is far from over. “The great thing is, because he’s so well preserved, we’ll be able to get more and more data from Cheddar Man all the time,” he said.

In the future, Booth said, “we’ll be seeking more information on Cheddar’s diet, lifestyle and taking a look at common diseases from this time period.”
“We don’t have any other complete skeletons from this period,” he said. “They’re usually in bits and pieces. Therefore, we’re determined to use Cheddar to find out as much as we can. He’ll definitely leave a great legacy.”
Cheddar Man’s complete skeleton has been lent to the museum and is currently on display.


We don’t care.