LONDON (Monitoring desk): London scientists on Wednesday divulged that the first modern Britons were blue-eyed and dark-toned, ensuing pioneering DNA analysis of 10,000 years old remains of a man.
Dubbed as “Cheddar Man” after a southwestern area of England where his skeleton was dug from a cave in 1903, the ancient man has led to this new discovery about the physical characteristics of early Britons after the complete study of the full DNA of his remains.
During a joint venture by Britain’s Natural History Museum and University College London, scientists retrieved bone powder from a 2 mm hole in his skull for DNA analysis.
These new findings altogether changed the previous perception of Cheddar Man, as being characterized with brown eyes and light skin tone in the earlier model.
“It is very surprising that a Brit 10,000 years ago could have that combination of very blue eyes but really dark skin,” said the museum´s Chris Stringer, who has been analyzing bones of people found in caves for the past decade.
The discovery suggests that lighter skin tones are a more recent characteristic of populations of northern Europe and that early Britons were, in fact dark-skinned.
The tribe of Cheddar Man is know to have migrated to Britain following the end of the last Ice Age and his DNA is linked to individuals discovered in modern-day Spain, Hungary and Luxembourg.
Selina Brace, an ancient DNA researcher at the museum, told that the cave environment was such that it helped preserve the remains of Cheddar Man.
“In the cave you have a really nice, cool, dry, constant environment, and that basically prevents the DNA from breaking down,” she said.
A bust of Cheddar Man, complete with shoulder-length dark hair and short facial hair, was created using 3D printing, which took three months to complete using a high-tech scanner designed earlier for the International Space Station.
Alfons Kennis, who made the bust with his brother Adrie, said the DNA findings were “revolutionary”.
“It´s a story all about migrations throughout history,” he told Channel 4 in a documentary to be aired on February 18.
“It maybe gets rid of the idea that you have to look a certain way to be from somewhere. We are all immigrants,” he added.