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First modern Briton Cheddar Man had 'dark to black skin'

Cheddar Man, who lived 300 generations ago, had darker skin than previously thought.

Cheddar Man lived in Britain around 300 generations ago.
Cheddar Man lived in Britain around 300 generations ago. PA

The first modern Briton had "dark to black" skin, new research suggests.

Britain's oldest complete skeleton, who lived around 300 generations ago and is known as Cheddar Man, was discovered more than a century ago in Gough's Cave in Somerset.

New examinations of his DNA and facial reconstruction of the fossil, set to be shown on Channel 4, indicates that the young man would have had a darker complexion than first thought.

Evidence found by evolution and DNA specialists at the Natural History Museum and UCL suggests pigmentation associated with northern European ancestry occurred more recently than previously believed.

Cheddar Man, thought to have died in his twenties and have had a relatively good diet, lived in Britain when it was almost completely depopulated.

Although previous populations had settled in Britain long before his arrival, they were wiped out before him and he marked the start of continuous habitation on the island.

Genetically, he belonged to a group of people known as the "Western Hunter-Gatherers", Mesolithic-era individuals from Spain, Hungary and Luxembourg.

His ancestors migrated to Europe from the Middle East after the Ice Age and today, 10% of White British people are descended from the group.

The research and remodelling process was documented for show The First Brit: Secrets of the 10,000 Year Old Man, which will be aired on Channel 4 on February 18.

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