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Cheddar Man: DNA shows early Briton had dark skin

Researchers from London's Natural History Museum extracted DNA from Cheddar Man, Britain's oldest complete skeleton, which was discovered in 1903.

"So to come face-to-face with what this guy could have looked like - and that striking combination of the hair, the face, the eye colour and that dark skin: something a few years ago we couldn't have imagined and yet that's what the scientific data show."

Image caption A replica of Cheddar Man's skeleton now lies in Gough's Cave Fractures on the surface of the skull suggest he may even have met his demise in a violent manner.

But they were in luck: not only was DNA preserved, but Cheddar Man has since yielded the highest coverage (a measure of the sequencing accuracy) for a genome from this period of European prehistory - known as the Mesolithic, or Middle Stone Age.

They teamed up with researchers at University College London (UCL) to analyse the results, including gene variants associated with hair, eye and skin colour.

Cheddar Man was part of this wave of migrants, who walked across a landmass called Doggerland that, in those days, connected Britain to mainland Europe.

Prof Sykes compared the ancient genetic information with DNA from 20 living residents of Cheddar village and found two matches - including history teacher Adrian Targett, who became closely connected with the discovery.


  • DNA Tests on an Ancient Skeleton Reveal the First Briton Was Black, Not WhiteDaily Beast
  • DNA shows first modern Briton had dark skin, blue eyesPhys.Org
  • DNA suggests 10000-year-old Brit had 'dark to black' skin, blue eyesMinneapolis Star Tribune
  • Ancient Briton had dark skin and blue eyes, shows DNA test on 'Cheddar Man'Hindustan Times
  • 'The First Brit' is known as Cheddar Man and had dark skin and blue eyesWalesOnline
  • Cheddar Man: First modern Briton had dark skin and blue eyes, DNA analysis showsSky News
  • First modern Britons had 'dark to black' skin, Cheddar Man DNA analysis revealsThe Guardian
  • Landmark Early Briton Had Dark Skin, New Study RevealsSputnik International
  • DNA analysis proves first Britons were black with blue eyesFace2Face Africa

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Cheddar Man: DNA shows early Briton had dark skin


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