DNA Results Of Britain’s Oldest Skeleton Are Surprising

New Findings About Our Ancestors Scientists have uncovered more than they bargained for with recent DNA testing on “Cheddarman,” Britain’s oldest nearly complete human skeleton. Cheddarman was found in...

New Findings About Our Ancestors

Scientists have uncovered more than they bargained for with recent DNA testing on “Cheddarman,” Britain’s oldest nearly complete human skeleton. Cheddarman was found in 1903 in a cave at Cheddar Gorge, and hence got his infamous and rather catchy nickname. This man lived in southwest England 10,000 years ago and what scientists have learned through up-to-date DNA testing is contrary to previous popular belief.

The recent studies, which required drilling into the skeleton’s skull, revealed that Cheddarman in fact had a dark to black skin tone. Not only was his skin color much darker than scientists thought it to be in the past, but the oldest known Briton also had piercing blue eyes and curly dark hair. This finding suggests that the lighter skin pigmentation of Northern Europeans is far more recent than previously thought, in fact only goes back less than 6,000 years.

Since the skeleton itself is so old, around 10% of indigenous British ancestry can be linked to Cheddarman. Scientists and researchers alike are excited and shocked at the findings. According to a New York Times article on the recent findings, Professor Chris Stringer, research leader in human origins at the Natural History Museum, is excited to be a part of such an egregious endeavor.

“I first studied Cheddar Man more than 40 years ago, but could never have believed that we would one day have his whole genome — the oldest British one to date. To go beyond what the bones tell us and get a scientifically based picture of what he actually looked like is a remarkable and from the results quite a surprising achievement,” Stringer said.

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