07:52 GMT12 April 2021
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    Cheddar Man is regarded as the oldest man to have lived in Britain, and his skin color suggests that previous ideas that northern Europeans were light skinned is a far more recent phenomenon.

    Cheddar Man, Britain's oldest skeleton had a dark complexion, curly hair and blue eyes, scientists have discovered.

    Cheddar Man, the oldest known man to settle in Britain 10,000 years ago was discovered in a cave in Somerset in 1903 in an area more famous for its cheese and has been a topic of mystery and intrigue ever since.

    Previous research and reconstructions suggested Cheddar Man had a lighter skin tone but following groundbreaking research carried out by London's Natural History Museum Evolution specialists and University College London (UCL) suggests he had dark skin, an almost black complexion.

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    Described by UCL as one of the most challenging human DNA projects to date, Cheddar Man had his genome sequence analysed to establish his appearance.

    "Cheddar Man's genetic profile places him with several other Mesolithic-era Europeans from Spain, Hungary and Luxembourg whose DNA had 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," Professor Mark Thomas said in a statement.

    Scientists drilled a two millimeter hold into the skull to extract genetic information to start reconstructing Cheddar Man's face.

    Model makers then used a hi-tech scanner to produce a 3D image to produce facial features based on the results of the scientific research.

    "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!" Professor Chris Stringer, Research Leader in Human Origins at the Natural History Museum said in a statement. 

    "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 surprising) achievement," Professor Stringer added. 

    The revelation that the first Britain had dark to black skin has provoked reactions on social media and #CheddarMan began trending on Twitter.

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    black faces, skeleton, migrant, prehistoric, cave, man, research, University College London (UCL), UCL, United Kingdom
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