Britain’s oldest complete skeleton, known as Cheddar Man, was unearthed more than a century ago in Somerset.
Researchers from London’s Natural History Museum extracted DNA from Cheddar Man, which was discovered in 1903, and have learned a bit more about him.
The interesting research showed the first modern Briton had ‘dark to black’ skin, whereas previous reconstructions of Cheddar Man, depicted him with a lighter skin tone.
However, in-depth examination of the DNA data and facial reconstruction of the fossil, showed that Cheddar Man would have had a darker complexion than previously thought, along with blue eyes and dark, curly hair.
The results also highlight the differing thought on where Cheddar Man originated from.
The research points to a Middle Eastern origin for Cheddar Man, suggesting that his ancestors would have left Africa and then moved into the Middle East.
They would then have travelled west into Europe, before crossing the ancient land bridge called Doggerland which connected Britain to continental Europe.
The research indicated that the lighter skin characteristic of modern Europeans is recent.
Why is he called Cheddar Man?
The reason for his name could be because Cheddar Man’s remains had been unearthed 115 years ago in Gough’s Cave, located in Somerset’s Cheddar Gorge.
Further examination has shown that the man was short by today’s standards – about 5ft 5in – and possibly died in his early 20s.