First Britons had dark skin, DNA ear scraps found in 10,000 year-old ‘Cheddar Man’ reveal

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The earliest Britons were black-skinned, with dark curly hair and possibly blue eyes, new analysis of a 10,000-year-old Somerset skeleton has revealed.

The groundbreaking discovery was made in a “stroke of luck” after archeologists found scraps of DNA in the ear of the Mesolithic “Cheddar Man”, the oldest complete skeleton ever found in the UK and one of the museum’s most treasured specimens.

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The results show, contrary to popular belief, that the founding generations of Britons owed more in appearance to Paleolithic Africans, from whom all humans descend. Scientists said they show that commonly understood racial categories are historically only “recent constructions”.

Archeologists already knew Cheddar Man was about five foot five inches tall, around 10 stone with good teeth and that he died in his early 20s. But genetic sequencing that would have been impossible just ten years ago have now allowed them to determine the colour of its skin, eyes, and hair.

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“The combination of quite dark skin and blue eyes is something that we don’t imagine is typical, but that was the real appearance of these people, something that’s quite rare today,” said Professor Chris Stringer, research leader in human origins at the Natural History Museum.

Read full, original post: Cheddar Man: the first Britons were black, Natural History Museum DNA study reveals

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