Cheddar Man is a human male fossil found in Gough's Cave in Cheddar Gorge, Somerset, England. The skeletal remains date to the Mesolithic (ca. 9100 BP) and it appears that he died a violent death. A large crater-like lesion just above the skull's right orbit suggests that the man may have also been suffering from a bone infection.
Analysis of his nuclear DNA indicates that he was a typical member of the western European population at the time, probably with lactose intolerance, blue eyes, and dark curly or wavy hair and, less certainly, dark skin.
Nuclear DNA sequence data
Nuclear DNA was extracted from the petrous part of the temporal bone by a team from the Natural History Museum in 2018. The genetic markers suggested (based on their associations in modern populations whose phenotypes are known) that he probably had blue eyes, lactose intolerance, dark curly or wavy hair, and, less certainly, dark to very dark skin. These features are typical of the European population of the time, now known as West European Hunter-Gatherers. This population forms about 10%, on average, of the ancestry of Britons without a recent family history of immigration.
Genetic change since the Mesolithic
Brown eyes, lactose tolerance, and light skin are common in the modern population of the area. These genes came from later immigration, most of it ultimately from two major waves, the first of Neolithic farmers from the Near East, another of Bronze Age pastoralists, most likely speakers of Indo-European languages, from the Pontic steppe.
The mitochondrial DNA of Cheddar Man was of haplogroup U5b1. Some 65% of western European Mesolithic hunter-gatherers had haplogroup U5; today it is widely distributed, at lower frequencies, across western Eurasia and northern Africa. In 1996, Bryan Sykes of the University of Oxford first sequenced the mitochondrial DNA from one of Cheddar Man's molars.
There was no genetic link with the other skeletons from Gough's Cave, which are 5,000 years older than Cheddar Man. For much of this intervening period, the last glaciation of Europe had made the area unsuitable for human life.
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|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Cheddar Man.|
- Devlin, Hannah (7 February 2018). "First modern Britons had 'dark to black' skin, Cheddar Man DNA analysis reveals". Guardian. Retrieved 7 February 2018.
- Nuthall, Keith (9 March 1997). "There's no place like home, says 'son of Cheddar Man'". The Independent. London. Retrieved 14 March 2013.
- Lyall, Sarah (24 March 1997). "Tracing Your Family Tree to Cheddar Man's Mum". New York Times. Retrieved 9 February 2018.