Early British humans had dark skin, DNA analysis reveals

SHOCK FIND: Oldest Brit reconstructed to show what we looked like 10000 years ago

But how did they manage to recreate the ancient human's face so accurately? They have studied cups made from human skulls which suggest this cannibalistic behaviour was driven by a type of ritual rather than starvation.

The tests were done by a team from University College London and London's, where Cheddar Man, believed to be about 10,000 years old, has been kept since his discovery in the early 20th century.

He is thought to have died in his twenties and had a good diet.

SHOCK FIND: Oldest Brit reconstructed to show what we looked like 10000 years ago

Britain was periodically settled and then cleared during ice ages until the end of the last glacial period about 11,700 years ago, since when it has been continuously inhabited. This population had lighter skin and brown eyes and would have absorbed populations like the ones Cheddar Man belonged to. That would mean that he had a darker skin tone with blue eyes.

The finding suggests the lighter skin pigmentation now seen as typical of northern Europeans is far more recent than previously thought, according to researchers from University College London who took part in the project.

"The historical perspective that you get just tells you that things change, things are in flux, and what may seem as a cemented truth that people who feel British should have white skin, through time is not at all something that is an immutable truth", said Yoan Dieckmann, one of the UCL researchers on the project.

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Channel 4 are releasing a documentary about Cheddar Man and the reconstruction titled "First Brit: Secrets of the 10,000 Year Old Man".

"People define themselves by which country they're from, and they assume that their ancestors were just like them", said Alfons Kennis, one of the artists who reconstructed Cheddar Man's head using 3D printing.

The talented duo combined the scientific data with physical measurements from scans of the skull to create the most accurate representation of Britain's earliest known ancestor. The Natural History Museum reports that he was discovered back in 1903 during improvements to draining for the popular tourist attraction, Gough's Cave.

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"He reminds us that you can't make assumptions about what people looked like in the past based on what people look like in the present, and that the pairings of features we are used to seeing today aren't something that's fixed", Booth said on the museum website.

Three hundred generations later, around 10 per cent of indigenous British ancestry can be linked to Cheddar Man's people, scientists say.

"It's a story all about migrations throughout history", he told Channel 4 in a documentary to be aired on February 18.

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It followed scientists as they worked to deduce the skeleton's facial appearance in order to build the most accurate reconstruction yet.

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